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| Theobroma grandiflorum|
(Willd. ex Spreng.) K.Schum.
Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum), also spelled Cupuassu and Copoasu, is a tropical rainforest tree related to Cacao. Common throughout the Amazon basin, it is widely cultivated in the north of Brazil. The largest production occurs in Pará, followed by Amazonas, Rondônia and Acre.
Cupuaçu trees usually are between 5 and 15 meters (16 to 50 feet) tall. Some trees can reach 20 meters (65 feet). They have brown bark. Their leaves are 25–35 cm (10–14 in) long and 6–10 cm (2–4 in) across. These leaves have 9 or 10 pairs of veins. As they mature, their leaves change colour from pink-tinted to green. Eventually they begin bearing fruit. Cupuaçu fruits are oblong, brown, and fuzzy, 20 cm (8 in) long, 1–2 kg (2–4 lb) in weight, and covered with a thick (4–7 mm), hard exocarp.
The white pulp of the cupuaçu is uniquely fragrant. It contains theacrine (1,3,7,9-tetramethyluric acid) instead of the xanthines (caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline) found in cacao. Cupuaçu can replace cocoa in many day-to-day foods, especially for children, such as chocolate milk. It is frequently used in desserts, juices and sweets. Cupuaçu seeds can be made into cupulate, which looks and tastes just like chocolate but is cheaper and more resistant to heat. Asahi Foods, a Japanese company, once tried to patent the production and use of Cupuaçu seed fat, but they failed.
- Vasconcelos, M. N. L.; Silva, M. L. da, Maia, J. G. S., and Gottlieb, O. R. (1975). "Estudo químico de sementes do cupuaçu" (in Portuguese) (PDF). Acta Amazonica 5: 293–295. http://www2.prossiga.br/Otto/textos%20completos%5CCv261.PDF. Retrieved 2006-08-24.