Synonyms: Artocarpus altilis var. non-seminiferus, Artocarpus altilis var. seminiferus, Artocarpus communis, Artocarpus incisa, Artocarpus incisus, Artocarpus incisus var. non-seminiferus, Artocarpus incisus var. seminiferus, Artocarpus laevis, Artocarpus papuanus, Artocarpus rima, Saccus laevis, Sitodium altile
Other names: Breadfruit
Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry and Jackfruit family (Moraceae) originating in the South Pacific and that was eventually spread to the rest of Oceania. British and French navigators introduced a few Polynesian seedless varieties to Caribbean islands during the late 18th century, and today it is grown in some 90 countries throughout South and Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean, Central America and Africa. Its name is derived from the texture of the moderately ripe fruit when cooked, similar to freshly baked bread; it has a potato-like flavor.
Breadfruit trees grow to a height of 25 m (82 ft). The large and thick leaves are deeply cut into pinnate lobes. All parts of the tree yield latex, a milky juice, which is useful for boat caulking.
The trees are monoecious, with male and female flowers growing on the same tree. The male flowers emerge first, followed shortly afterward by the female flowers. The latter grow into capitula, which are capable of pollination just three days later. The compound, false fruit develops from the swollen perianth, and originates from 1,500-2,000 flowers. These are visible on the skin of the fruit as hexagon-like disks.
Breadfruit is one of the highest-yielding food plants, with a single tree producing up to 200 or more grapefruit-sized fruits per season. It requires very limited care. In the South Pacific, the trees yield 50 to 150 fruits per year. In southern India, normal production is 150 to 200 fruits annually. Productivity varies between wet and dry areas. In the Caribbean, a conservative annual estimate is 25 fruits per tree. Studies in Barbados indicate a reasonable potential of 16 to 32 tons per hectare (6.7-13.4 tons/acre). The ovoid fruit has a rough surface, and each fruit is divided into many achenes, each achene surrounded by a fleshy perianth and growing on a fleshy receptacle. Most selectively bred cultivars have seedless fruit.
The breadfruit is very closely related to the breadnut, from which it might have been selected. It is noticeably similar in appearance to the also related jackfruit.
Images: Forest Starr & Kim Starr, CC-BY Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0