The Cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) is a small (4.5-7.5 m), evergreen tree of the family Sterculiaceae, native to South America and Central America. Its beans are used to make cocoa and chocolate.
The tree grows naturally at around 1,000 feet, needing a humid climate with regular rainfall and good soil. The seeds, usually called beans, come in a large fruit called a cacao pod, ovoid and 15-30 cm long and 8-10 cm wide. The pod holds 20 to 60 seeds in a white pulp, 300 seeds produce around 1 kg of cocoa paste. Each seed is mainly fat (40-50%, cacao butter).
Cacao beans were commonly used as currency in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. In some areas, such as Yucatan, they were still used in place of small coins as late as the 1840s.