APS Feature: World Chocolate Production: The Impact of Plant Diseases (2001) | All Plants | Scoop.it

Chocolate has its origins in ancient Central America where the Maya and the Aztecs cultivated the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao L.) and extracted from the seeds or beans a highly prized drink, which was called chocolatl, a precursor to our modern English word chocolate. Theobroma means the source of the “food of the gods,” hence its scientific name Theo (god) and broma (food). The Spaniards, notably Hernan Cortez, introduced the drink to the Spanish royalty, but the bitter drink did not become popular for another one hundred years, when additives such as sugar, cinnamon, and chile peppers made the drink more palatable. Chocolate was the first mildly stimulating drink introduced to Europe, appearing even before coffee and tea.


The present-day popularity of chocolate and the drink cocoa needs no verification as attested to by the many “chocolate lovers” who especially look forward to occasions and national holidays when chocolate is traditionally given as a gift to loved ones and friends. The demand for chocolate is growing and the question now is will the world supply of a product that comes from a strictly tropical, rainforest-inhabiting tree will continue to meet the demand. Over the past two decades several important fungal diseases have gained considerable importance and pose a serious threat to the supply of chocolate. Depending on where cacao is grown, one or more of three diseases (black pod, witches’ broom, and frosty pod rot) may reach epiphytotic proportions that cause devastating losses.

Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL