Are cacao trees self pollinating?

Are cacao trees self pollinating?

The cacao plant has both male and female reproductive organs on the same plant but it cannot self-fertilize and so is entirely dependent on the midge to do this.

What pollinates the cacao tree flowers?

The tiny chocolate midge is the only pollinator who serves the cacao plant. The flowers are small, white, convoluted, face downwards, and require tiny pollinators. Enter chocolate midges—very small flies with long, complicated names: Ceratopogonidae, various species of Forcipomyia and Euprojoannisia.

Do bees pollinate cocoa trees?

While many of the world’s flowers are pollinated by bees (hymenoptera) or butterflies/moths (Lepidoptera), cocoa flowers are pollinated by tiny flies, Forcipomyia midges in the family Ceratopogonidae [ 16 , 94 ]. The tree flowers profusely, but few flowers set particularly in the dry season.

Do mosquitoes pollinate cacao?

The flowers can only be pollinated by one genus of a tiny biting midge, Forcipomyia. Like many plants, the cacao flowers have both the male and female parts within the same flower.

What does cacao fruit look like?

Cacao fruit is elongated, shaped like a skinny version of an American football, about the length of an adult’s hand, and it can be red to yellow. Normally when people produce chocolate, they discard the fruit pulp, so when you eat chocolate you never get to taste it, but that fruit pulp is quite delicious.

What does a cacao flower look like?

The petals of cacao flowers are typically creamy white with pink edges and hang on a stem similar to a fuscia. They are unscented, and bear five stamens, five petals and a central pistil. When open they look like little starbursts all over the trunk of the tree. When closed they resemble tiny cacao pods!

How do you hand pollinate cacao flowers?

On the plantation the flowers are artificially pollinated in order to increase the productivity of the trees. With a steady hand, Osmundo carefully transfers pollen from the anthers of one flower to the stigma of another with a pair of tweezers. The pollinated flower is then covered for a few days to protect it.

How does cacao reproduce?

When an ovule is fertilized by a pollen grain, together they form a zygote – which, in the case of plants, become the seeds. Each seed is like a baby, in other words, the child of the cacao plant.

Why was the fly vital for cacaos existence?

The midges maintaining cocoa crops These flies are primary pollinators of the cacao (or cocoa) tree, Theobroma cacao, the beans of which are used to make chocolate. This makes them the perfect size to access the hooded, pollen-producing anthers of the cocoa tree’s small flowers.

Do mosquitoes pollinate more than bees?

Yes, mosquitoes pollinate flowers. The normal food of adult mosquitoes is nectar from plants. Though they don’t gather pollen like bees, they fly from flower to flower to feed, and along the way, they carry pollen from one blossom to the other.

Is raw cacao bad for you?

Generally, raw cacao products — made from fermented, dried, unroasted cacao beans — are less processed and healthier. Still, standard dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa is a good source of beneficial antioxidants and minerals.

Can you eat raw cacao fruit?

To eat cacao fruit, you pop one of those pulp-covered seeds in your mouth, and suck the sweet flesh off the seed. But some of us love the flavor of raw cacao nibs, and for us the combined experience of eating cacao fruit, the beans and fruit-flesh at the same time, is the height of chocolate experience.

How often does a cacao tree need to be pollinated?

It is important to know how the pollination of cacao works because in general, the rate of pollination is only 10% of the thousands of flowers a cacao tree can produce each year. That means that 90% of the flowers are not pollinated!

How are the seeds of a cacao tree made?

Cacao trees provide the seeds from which chocolate is made. But those seeds develop only once the trees’ blooms have been pollinated. The trees’ fruit — known as pods — are created by dime-sized flowers. And those blooms are difficult.

What kind of flies pollinate the cacao plant?

The short answer is: tiny flies (Diptera) from the families of the biting midges (Ceratopogonidae, including the genus Forcipomyia) and to a lesser extent the gall midges (Cecidomyiidae).

How are chocolate midges different from other pollinators?

From a midge’s point of view, planation cacao does not equal natural rainforest cacao! The native habitat of chocolate midges is dense, shady rain forests, so the midges seldom seek the sunnier, unnatural arrangement of cacao trees in commercial plantations for pollination.