The Q&A Archives: Growing Cocoa Trees

Question: I was wondering if cocoa trees would grow in Southern California. My client is deeply in love with chocolate, and I thought she might want a chance to make her own.

Answer: Cacao (Theobroma) is a tree that grows to 25 feet, with leathery leaves and long seed pods. The seeds are harvested commercially, fermented and roasted, then processed into cocoa and chocolate. These trees are generally grown in the wet, lowland tropics of Central and South America. Your region of California would probably be warm enough, but may not be humid enough for the tree to flower and produce seeds. Cacao trees are not easily obtained, probably because of their poor performance outside of the tropics.

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