The Cacao Plant (Theobroma cacao)
Vascular vs. Nonvascular: Vascular
Seeded vs. Seedless: Seeded
Gymnosperm vs. Angiosperm: Angiosperm
Monocot vs. Dicot: Dicot
Range and Habitat: The Cacao plant grows naturally in the Central and South American tropical regions. However, it can be grown in any tropical habitat, including the one at the Botanical Gardens.
Use By Humans: Food (Chocolate, Cocoa Powder), Medicinal (Cocoa Butter). In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Aztec Empire in Mexico used Cacao beans as a currency. Cacao Butter is used to heal rashes, cuts, burns, and dry skin. Chocolate is made using Cacao, milk, and sugar to make a delicious food. Cacao Powder is thought to relieve inflammation.
Adaptations: The Cacao plant has its seeds protected by tough, thick fruits to resist predators. The seeds are also high in the air, so that most predators cannot even reach them.
Sources: "Theobroma cacao", Encyclopedia of Life; "Theobroma cacao", Wikipedia; "Insect pollination of cacao (Theoboma cacao L.) in Costa Rica", University of Wisconsin.
Chocolate: One of Cacao's many uses.
Another use for Cacao: Cocoa Butter!