Incredibly delicate, in addition to having a complex structure, the cacao flower is one of the most beautiful flowers in the world. It does take a keen eye, however, to appreciate them, because they are very small—only about one-half inch across. Unlike most flowers, they grow directly from the trunk of the tree or from the body of the branches; when the tree is in bloom, the trunk and branches are covered with literally thousands of tiny, yet beautiful cocoa flowers.
It is interesting to note that the cacao flower’s beauty does not extend to its scent. In fact, if you are waiting for some enterprising chocolate company to come out with a perfume entitled “Eau de Parfum Cacao Fleur,” you will have to wait a very long time. The reason is simply that the cacao flower is unique in another way—It has no smell. It is also for this reason that bees and other pollinating insects do not fertilize the cacao flowers but instead leave pollination to other insects.
It has been estimated that on average only one out of one hundred cacao flowers will become fertilized and grow into a cocoa pod. It is interesting to think how the lowly midge is responsible for fertilizing the cacao tree and creating one of the world’s greatest foods.
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