Theobroma cacao L.

The emergence of chocolate, obtained from cocoa beans, is related to the Mayan and Aztec pre-Columbian civilizations that inhabited Mexico and part of Central America, but the fruit is native to the Amazon. In Brazil, its history is closely related to southern Bahia. Beginning in the eighteenth century, large plantations appeared in the region of Ilhéus and Itabuna, dominating the area landscape for about 150 years, until the crops started to be decimated by a plague called witch’s broom. Besides chocolate, its most notorious byproduct, cocoa yields a delicious juice, made with the pod’s pulp. The beans are also used to produce cocoa powder, a sugarless product used in confectionery and some savory dishes.