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Mike's Blog - Day 68

Our “Chocolate tree”, Theobroma cacao in the greenhouse.

Here it is in close-up.

You can usually find a stick insect on this, it seems to be a plant they like, this and sugar cane. They must have a sweet tooth. Of course the “chocolate” comes from the cocoa beans that they produce.

When this new bean was first introduced it was as a hot drink, as a competitor to coffee, but it didn’t really take off. Then they discovered out in South America that mothers were mixing it with their breast milk for their babies and young children. Mixing with milk seemed to do the trick and milk chocolate became a craze.

We were given this plant from Kew. They told me not to worry about the new growth looking sickly, a strange colour and drooping. They said its common in this plant family to have new growth like this as in the wild it deters infestation from insects that would seek out healthy fresh growth instead.

It’s not working very well at deterring aphids, it’s smothered!