|Flowers of T. speciosum in bud and in bloom|
Theobroma speciosum is an arboriform species of flowering plant in the mallow family native to northern South America. It is the 35th most abundant species of tree in the Amazon rainforest.
The specific epithet 'speciosum' is used to indicate that a plant is aesthetically pleasing; it is a neuter form of 'speciosus', which is Latin for 'beautiful'.
Theobroma speciosum has a number of common names:
Theobroma speciosum is an evergreen tree that grows up to 15 m (49 ft) tall. The trunk is straight, with plagiotropic (horizontally growing) side branches. The canopy is small. Its leaves are simple, and have a coriaceous (leather-like) surface with trichomes (hairs). Leaf arrangement is distichous (leaves alternate between one side of the stem and the other). Flowers are red, and grow on the trunk in dense clusters. Fruits are 10 cm (3.9 in) in length, and comprise approximately 20 seeds surrounded by a white flesh, which in turn is surrounded by a capsule.
Theobroma speciosum is native to:
The fruit of T. speciosum is a food source for primates and rodents. Its flowers are pollinated by flying insects.
The flesh of the fruit of is eaten by the Ka'apor and Tacana peoples. The seeds are used to make chocolate, and could also be used to make cocoa butter substitutes.
The flowers are edible, and contain high concentrations of antioxidants.
The fruit capsules can be used to make soap and deodorant.
As a crop wild relative, T. speciosum could be used as a source of genetic variability for T. cacao, which is widely cultivated for its cocoa beans.
T. speciosum is occasionally grown in gardens as an ornamental plant.
Colletotrichum luxificum, a species of pathogenic fungus, can cause witch's broom disease in Theobroma speciosum.