Cocoa. n.s. [cacaotal, Span. and therefore more properly written cacao.]
A species of palm-tree, cultivated in most of the inhabited parts of the East and West Indies; but thought a native of the Maldives. It is one of the most useful trees to the inhabitants of America. The bark of the nut is made into cordage, and the shell into drinking bowls. The kernel of the nut affords them a wholesome food, and the milk contained in the shell a cooling liquor. The leaves of the trees are used for thatching their houses, and are also wrought into baskets, and most other things that are made of osiers in Europe. Miller.
The cacao or chocolate nut is a fruit of an oblong figure, much resembling a large olive in size and shape. It is composed of a thin but hard and woody coat or skin, of a dark blackish colour; and of a dry kernel, filling up its whole cavity, fleshy, dry, firm, and fattish to the touch, of a dusky colour, an agreeable smell, and a pleasant and peculiar taste. It was uknown to us 'till the discovery of America, where the natives not only drank the liquor made from the nuts, in the manner we do chocolate, but also used them as money. The tree is not very tall, but grows regularly, and is of a beautiful form, especially when loaded with its fruit. Its stem is of the thickness of a man's leg, and but a few feet in height; its bark rough, and full of tubercles; and its leaves six or eight inches long, half as much in breadth, and pointed at the ends. The flowers stand on the branches, and even on the trunk of the tree, in clusters, each having its own pedicle, an inch and sometimes less in length: they are small, of a yellowish colour, and are succeeded by the fruit, which is large and oblong, resembling a cucumber, five, six, or eight inches in length, and three or four in thickness; and, when fully ripe, it is of a purple colour. Within the cavity of this fruit are lodged the cocoa nuts, usually about thirty in number. This tree flowers twice or three times in the year, and ripens as many series of fruits. Hill's History of the Mat. Medica.
Amid'those orchards of the sun,
Give me to drain the cocoa's milky bowl,
And from the palm to draw its freshening wine. Thomson.