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Chocolate in MesoamericaA Cultural History of Cacao$
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Cameron McNeil

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813029535

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813029535.001.0001

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The Domestication and Distribution of Theobroma cacao L. in the Neotropics

The Domestication and Distribution of Theobroma cacao L. in the Neotropics

(p.69) 3 The Domestication and Distribution of Theobroma cacao L. in the Neotropics
Chocolate in Mesoamerica

Nisao Ogata

Arturo Gómez-pompa

Karl A. Taube

University Press of Florida

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

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