The tree will flower and produce fruit all year long. The leaves are a pretty glossy dark green, elliptical and smooth with a feel a lot like onionskin paper.
You may have read about cacao nibs used as an ingredient in confections, and of their possible health benefits and antioxidant qualities. They are basically just the cacao seeds, roasted and hulled. They are what would be ground into a paste and mixed with sugar and other ingredients to become chocolate. On their own, however, cacao nibs are not sweet, but rather slightly nutty, bitter and crunchy like roasted coffee beans.
Theobroma cacao trees need shade and only filtered sun (especially shade for tender seedlings), very high humidity, and rich but well-draining soil as it does not like wet feet. Those conditions are difficult to maintain, except in the tropics, and with a little care, South Florida.
This article was written by Kenneth Setzer and originally published in the Miami Herald, 1/18/14. Minor changes from the print version of this article were introduced to improve readability in a digital format.