Sunday, March 7, 2010

a seed most popular

Walking through rainforest areas of the Botanic Gardens recently has left me thinking more vividly about what extraordinary places they are. Not only are the largest areas of rainforest on out planet referred to as the 'lungs of the world' but they are the source of innumerable items that make their way into common everyday usage, from the food we eat to highly sought substances used in science, health and industry.
Industrialisation and corporatisation of these products which start life in often remote and intact rainforest areas make it actually quite easy to remain unknowing of or forget the origin of much that we consume and rely on daily.
I just came across an image of a certain seed that indeed is native to the deep tropics of the Americas.
cocoa flower

These flowers are from that particular tree that produces the seed that I must confess to being a little addicted to. In this image the flowers are growing on the side of the tree trunk - cauliflory being the botanical term for flowers and fruits growing in this manner - prevalent in rainforest areas.
The seed that got me thinking of all this tonight is shown here below.
I've skipped a few stages.
Flowers and Fruit of the Cocoa Tree, painted at Singapore
Here's a painting of the flowers and fruit of this tree that is on the Kew Gardens website under art and images. Now I think some of you definitely have figured out what I am referring to. I titled this post "a seed most popular" for good reason.
Its easy to forget our reliance on seeds. As long as we have the necessary cash we tend to think things just are there for us... at the shops. All that we need for out nutrition and want for our delight!
The seed I am refering to is the basis of chocolate!
Ah Yes!
The Cacao bean or cocoa is the dried and fully fermented fatty seed of Theobroma cacao from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter are derived. Read more at Wikipedia which will link you to various external weblinks at the end of the article.

Cocoa pods in various stages of ripening.

Cocoa beans ( seeds) in a cocao pod
File:Chuao 003.JPG
collecting of dried cacao in Venezuela
The following images are from the only bean to bar chocolate factory in New York. The Mast Brothers of New York City create a high quality chocolate from scratch. Images from . Click on Mast brothers above to see wonderful photos of the artisan chocolate business.

It is possible to see the Cacao tree in the Geodesic Dome in the Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha. Dedicated to Tropical plants it is constantly moist and humid in this amazing space. I shall have to go along and observe the life cycle of this plant through the year.... pay homage to this species whose seed has  brought so much cheer!


Altoon Sultan said...

Wow, wonderful. I had no idea the cocoa pods grew this way. Thanks for this post!

Sophie Munns said...

Lovely to have you visit Altoon! I have been so busy with things I have rather a back log of images from the gardens and am keen to get them least I've made a start.
Extraordinary really the entire cacao story. Seeing how the pods grow is amazing I agree.

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