A Chocolate Tree!

Chocolate tree

Theobroma cacao (chocolate) seedling

How to grow a chocolate tree (and muscle in on Côte D’Ivoire as the world’s top cacao producer).

3 easy steps

First, befriend a swarthy Ecuadorian farmer whose Willy Wonka grove is bisected by the pale though torrid line known as the equator (a line so pale that no one has yet to see it, so torrid that your mint-chocolate-chip ice cream melts before it hits the bowl). Second, beg for seeds. Third, plant them and start planning your empire.

But how will Cadbury deal with having to bring another cacao producer into the fold? Outstanding question. So I asked an expert. And since the nearest Cadbury office is several parsecs from the muddy outskirts of my garden patch, I settled for the next best thing: I asked an esurient, ponytailed girl who was sitting on a park bench, happenstantially and rapturously partaking in the pleasure that attends the manifold rituals associated with decimating a candy bar, the silvery wrapper glinting in the sunlight and seeming to somehow connect, for several incomprehensible moments, with a distant galaxy, her lips smothered with heavenly milk chocolate–in the selfsame way a cherub’s lips would be bespattered!–and her damask-tinged face radiating pure joy. So I asked her, “What’s the lowdown on new chocolate producing countries?” She smiled, arrantly, and left.

You are probably asking yourself what there is to learn from such an encounter. And the answer is patience. For patience is the stuff dreams are made of (I hate it when Humphrey Bogart steals and then mangles, with pitiless efficacy, my best lines). But enough of the Maltese Falcon. And come to think of it, maybe that bird was made of chocolate!



  1. You devil, you! First it’s the cinnamon trade, and now the chocolate you wish to master with your cute little seedlings. And perhaps your boldness goes so far as a demonic rubbing of the hands and chuckling over a future empire since, unlike the Sri Lankan plumber and the equatorial farmer, you have all the time in the world. As to the edacious milky way maiden with the chocolate besmirched lips…it’s likely that her impudent response to your question came from a sudden recall of what her mama done told her, i.e..”do not take–do not even discuss–candy with. strange old men.”


    • I don’t specifically recall the interdiction of taking candy from a long-fingernailed sorcerer. Now a stranger–that’s a horse of a different color (moving seamlessly from The Maltese Falcon to The Wizard of Oz, having already passed through Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, a vague and probably unexpected reference to the matter in hand).

      But I must make a confession. Just as the Maltese Falcon is a fake, so too is my tree. Let me explain. I no longer have my beloved chocolate tree. The picture is about five years old. It died of over cossetting (my diagnosis), but that’s another story. Right now it’s more of a reminder that I must once again befriend some poor farmer in or around Liberia.


  2. Ah….requiescat in pace . Do find another soon; the combo with cinnamon cries out for it.


  3. Mayhaps …you shall tango over pepper one of these days and rake up a storm…a fiery one that is.


    • As a matter of fact, Piper nigrum L. is on my list of to-die-for plants!


  4. oh, no, five years old? so no orchard of chocolate-blooming trees by now? and i had already made up my mind about how many kilos of (darkest) delight to order from your chocolate Eden, darn!!!


    • I think I will need to erect a biodome (nothing fancy, maybe something the size of a football field) in order to grow chocolate on this blustery, too-cold-for-cacao island, and then, after a few short decades–I’m accounting for the obligatory setbacks that accompany such ventures, such as burning down and rebuilding the glassy structure several times in an attempt to rid the trees of Moniliophthora perniciosa, a nasty fungus–I will be in a position to take orders, putting world-famous chocolatiers to shame.


  5. Who knew that this morning I’d be witness to a story about growing chocolate ~ the smoothness, a buttery flavor or bittersweet wake me up kind of delight. No matter it is something to be savored, slowly and with intense pleasure. Here is an early Valentine’s shout-out to my friend, Prospero. Yes chocolate is a weakness of mine – you must find yourself a new farmer that can supply you with another seedling.


    • Most of the cupids I’ve seen depicted are rather pudgy and would benefit from some sort of calorie restricted diet–sorry, no chocolate–or spending a few hours at the gym, for God knows they have too much time on their hands.


  6. Just yesterday, I had a Mexican chocolate ice cream cone at the beach – chocolate ice cream infused with cinnamon. All you need is a dairy cow, and you’re in business!


  7. A dairy cow! But dear Stickup, I’m already miles ahead of you on this: coconut milk.


    • Leave it to you! That’s so awesome. All that’s left is a little bell – to announce the arrival of your cold, creamy confection!


  8. Interesting plant! and great write up!


  9. Reblogged this on plant news and commented:
    Great Post by Exiledprospero! The writer takes planting to a whole new level of interesting!


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