Artocarpus altilis
(Moraceae) 

 

Common Names 

English: breadfruit

Spanish: pana, panapén, mapén, árbol de pan, buen pan, fruta de pan  

French: arbre à pain

Philippines: rimas

Indonesia, Malaysia: sukun

Cambodia: sakéé, khnaôr sâmloo 

Thailand: sa-ke, khanun-sampalor

Vietnam: sakê 

 

Origin and Distribution 

Native to the region including Southeast Asia, New Guinea and the South Pacific, although the exact location is uncertain.  Widely cultivated throughout the humid tropics.

 

Description

Breadfruit is a large tree, to 100 feet (30 m) tall, with large, spreading branches and a straight trunk with smooth gray bark.  Leaves large, 16-20 inches (40-50 cm) wide and 24-35 inches (60-90 cm) long, usually with 5-11 deeply cut lobes.  All parts of the tree contain abundant white latex.  Monecious, with axillary inflorescences.  Male inflorescence elongated, 1-1.5 inches (3-4 cm) wide and 6-10 inches (15-25 cm) long, female inflorescence globose, 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) wide and 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) long.  Fruits large, cylindrical to spheroid, 4-12 inches (10-30 cm) in diameter, green and covered with 4-6 sided polygons.  The pulp is usually seedless, cream colored to yellowish or reddish, starchy and hard when immature, becoming soft and sweet when ripe. 

 

Artocarpus altilis 

 

Propagation and Culture

Breadfruit is propagated by stem or root cuttings, airlayers and by grafting onto Artocarpus camansi (seeded breadfruit) rootstocks.  Flowers and fruits year round in tropical climates with little seasonal variation.  In regions with a pronounced cool or dry period, trees may become partially deciduous and stop fruiting until conditions become more conducive to rapid growth.  Breadfruit grows ad fruits best in fertile, well drained soils, but is widely adaptable.  Will grow and fruit from sea level to over 4900 feet (1500 m) elevation.  A mature breadfruit tree can produce between 200-700 fruits per year.  

 

Cultivars and Related Species

Hundreds of distinct cultivars have been described and named, mostly in the Pacific islands where breadfruit is a dietary staple.  'Samoan' is a cultivar with a compact growth habit, small, shallowly lobed leaf, and a relatively small fruit. 

Related species include Artocarpus camansi, the seeded breadfruit, Artocarpus mariannensis, the breadnut, Artocarpus heterophyllus, jackfruit, and Artocarpus integer, champedak.

 

Uses

Immature fruits are consumed baked, boiled, fried, steamed or roasted, much like potatoes.  Mature fruits become soft and sweet, and are used in breads, cakes, cookies and flan.  Breadfruit may also be preserved by canning, drying, or fermentation.  It is also made into a candy by first boiling ripe fruit, then dehydrating after coating with sugar and grated coconut.  

 

Nutritional composition per 100 g breadfruit      

Carbohydrate 21.5-31.7 g
Fat  0.2-0.5 g
Protein  1.2-2.4 g
Calcium  18-32 mg
Phosphorous  52-88 mg
Iron  0.4-1.5 mg
Vitamin A  26-40 IU
Thiamine 0.1-0.14 mg
Riboflavin 0.05-0.08 mg
Niacin  0.7-1.5 mg
Vitamin C   17-35 mg

Leaves and fruits are used as animal feed.  The fibrous bark is used to make tapa cloth.  The sticky, milky latex is used to caulk boats, for trapping birds, as chewing gum, and as a remedy for diarrhea.  In Trinidad and the Bahamas, a leaf extract is used to lower blood pressure and relieve asthma.

Breadfruit has long been an important staple food in the Pacific islands.  The following is a Hawaiian legend of the origin of breadfruit:  Long ago a god named Ku arrived on Hawai'i and married a mortal woman, never telling her he was a god. They had many children, and were very happy together. Then a terrible famine came to the islands, and Ku watched his family become weak with hunger. When he could bear this no longer, he told his wife: "If I go on a long journey, I can get food for our children and everyone on the island, but I will never be able to return." Although his wife did not want him to go, she couldn't stand watching her children starve, so she agreed. They walked together to their garden, and Ku disappeared into the earth after kissing his wife goodbye. She remained there, watering the ground with her tears, for several days. Then a sprout pushed up from the ground and rapidly grew into a large tree. Ku's body had become a tree trunk, his arms branches, his blood white latex flowing through the tree, and his head into a fruit that provided Ku's family and everyone on the island the food that he had promised. That tree, and the food, was the breadfruit.

 

More information on breadfruit

Breadfruit
From Julia Morton's Fruits of Warm Climates.

 

Breadfruit Page
Nyree Zerega's informative webpage describing the characteristics of Artocarpus altilis, Artocarpus mariannensis, and Artocarpus camansi.

 

The Breadfruit Institute
All about breadfruit.  A collection of 120 varieties of breadfruit with descriptions and photos at the National Tropical Botanical Garden's Kahanu Garden, in Maui, Hawaii.

 

 

 

 

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