Herrania balaensis

Scientific Name: Herrania balaensis

Origin: Ecuador

Family: Malvaceae

Bloom time: June - September

Herrania is an endangered evergreen tree closely related to the cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao). It is endemic to Ecuador where it is treasured as a flavoring in food. Flowers at the base of the trunk develop in summer. Herrania's natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and is largely is largely fragmented due to human intervention. It is not grown commercially but its fruit is used to make an intensely flavored, bitter cocoa and the white pulp which surrounds the seeds is eaten by the regional people. It has huge potential for breeding with traditional cocoa.

(Photo by Gail Hampshire)