Chapter

The Domestication and Distribution of <i>Theobroma cacao</i> L. in the Neotropics

Nisao Ogata, Arturo Gómez-pompa and Karl A. Taube

in Chocolate in Mesoamerica

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780813029535
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039503 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813029535.003.0003
The Domestication and Distribution of Theobroma cacao L. in the Neotropics

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The origins, domestication, and distribution of Theobroma cacao L. are controversial and difficult to discern because of their wide geographical distribution, human intervention, and because of the interbreeding between the species of Theobrama and Herrania which might have occurred during the pre-Columbian and Colonial period. This chapter discusses the domestication and distribution of Theobroma cacao L. Theobroma cacao L. is the most important economic plant species of the human neotropics and it presents an excellent model for understanding and comprehending the evolutionary patterns of tropical trees including the patterns of the domestication, distribution, and migration of domesticated plants. The cacao trees also present a model for understanding the origins as well as the patterns of domestication management in areas of high biodiversity. This chapter discusses genetic, ethnobotanic, and archeological evidence to describe the origin of cacao, its domestication, and its species distribution in such a way as to answer questions that may reveal the new sources of cacao genetic diversity and the ethnobotanical information related to the ancestral ways of using cacao with other plants involved in the preparation of food and medicine.

Keywords: origins; domestication; distribution; Theobroma cacao; cacao genetic diversity; ethnobotanic; evolutionary patterns; neotropics

Chapter.  6754 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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