Currently ripening in the steamy heat of the “tropical corridor” at Chelsea Physic Garden is a cocoa pod, the fruit of the Theobroma cacao
Theobroma cacao, theobroma meaning food of the gods in Latin, has strong ties to the Physic Garden. In 1689 Hans Sloane returned to London from working as a Physician in Jamaica, with him he brought what he thought would be a cure for stomach ache – it turned out to be the recipe for milk chocolate a drink (he had seen Jamaican mothers give to children with colic in Jamaica) Hans Sloane made considerable sums from his chocolate recipe, selling it to the Cadbury family. He used his fortune to purchase land in Chelsea including the garden now known as Chelsea Physic Garden. By way of thanking the Apothecaries who had trained him Sloane rented out the garden to them in perpetuity for a rent of £5, the same rent which is still paid to his descendants today.
The first Chocolate pod grown at the Chelsea Physic Garden is about to be harvested and made into a bar of chocolate. It’s the first time in the gardens 344 year history to produce chocolate despite the gardens success being in the foundation of the popular treat. The pod will be carefully crafted into a chocolate bar by Chantal Cody owner of Rococo chocolates.
Chelsea Physic Garden, established 1673, is London’s oldest botanic garden. The garden is an oasis of tranquillity that has been used to grow and demonstrated medicinal and useful plants for nearly 350 years. The Chelsea Physic Garden was first acquired by the Apothecaries in order to grow and learn from medicinal herbs and now stands as a world renowned collection of rare medicinal plants.
Chelsea Physic Garden
66 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 4HS
Telephone: 0207 352 5646
Main season hrs: 2 April – 30 October, Tuesday-Friday 11-6pm and Sundays 11-6pm