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Breadfruit Tree

Updated on March 24, 2013

Breadfruit

Breadfruit Tree growing in Brazil.
Breadfruit Tree growing in Brazil. | Source

Family – Moraceae

Genus - Artocarpus

Latin name – Artocarpus altilis

Origins of Breadfruit ~

If you are not familiar with breadfruit and you enjoy the smell, taste and texture of freshly baked bread then you are sure to enjoy this unusual but extremely versatile and popular fruit.

The breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is an important food source to many cultures and has been so since it was discovered over 3,000 years ago.

The species was first discovered in the South Pacific where it quickly spread throughout Oceania by travelers settling in these vast numbers of islands in Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia.

A relation of the Breadnut and Jackfruit, it was thanks to the famous Captain William Bligh (Mutiny on the Bounty) and some French travelers that a number of seedless varieties of breadfruit ended up in the Caribbean in the 1700s and from there ended up in many tropical regions.

Today the breadfruit is cultivated in over 85 countries with over 2,000 varieties of cultivars available.

Southeast Asia, India, Indonesia, The Seychelles, Samoa Islands, Hawaii, South Florida, Central and South America are some of the locations where you will find these trees growing in abundance.

Baby Breadfruit to Fully Mature Tree

Click thumbnail to view full-size
1st stage2nd stagenearly there.fully mature breadfruit tree.
1st stage
1st stage | Source
2nd stage
2nd stage | Source
nearly there.
nearly there. | Source
fully mature breadfruit tree.
fully mature breadfruit tree. | Source

Breadfruit Tree ~

These evergreen beauties may grow to a height of 85 ft (26 m) and have a dense wide canopy of leaves. The trees begin bearing fruit between 3-5 years old and require very little attention or care.

The breadfruit thrives in a wide variety of ecological conditions and is commonly found growing in home gardens or small farms intermixed with cash crops, subsistence crops or other beneficial plants.

More benefits to growing breadfruit trees, particularly in the Pacific and the high islands of Micronesia, are they form a vital part in traditional agro forestry systems.

Having a permanent display of leaves provides shade, mulch and a microclimate while they protect watersheds and replace field crops.

The spreading leaves are thick and large which have deep cuts of 1-6 lobes. Breadfruit grows best in the lower lying lands below 2,130 ft (650 m), unlike the Cherimoya Tree which thrives at the slightly higher levels.

Artocarpus altilis

 clusters of fruit on Breadfruit or 'Ulu Trees in Hawaii.
clusters of fruit on Breadfruit or 'Ulu Trees in Hawaii. | Source

Common names for breadfruit around the world ~

English - breadfruit

French – fruit a pain & arbre a pain

German - brotfruchbaum

Spanish - fruta de pan, pan, arbol de pan & panapen

Italian – albero del pane

Portuguese – fruta pao & pao de massa

Dutch – broodvrucht & broodboom

Caribbean – cow, pain bois, panbwa, frutapan & fruta de pan

Philippines – rimas

Papa New Guinea - kapaik

Sri Lanka – rata del

Malaysia, Indonesia – sukun

Tanzania – shelisheli

Guam, Mariana Islands – lemai & lemae

Hawaii, Samoa, Rotuma & Tuvalu – ‘ulu

Society Islands – ‘urlu

Cook Islands - kuru

'Ulu Pounding

'ulu or breadfruit is a main ingredient in the Hawaiian dish poi.
'ulu or breadfruit is a main ingredient in the Hawaiian dish poi. | Source

The Fruit ~

The fruit is large and oblong or round weighing between ½ -13 lbs (0.2-6 kg). The skin varies in textures between smooth, rough and spiny.

It may be light green, yellowish-green or yellow when fully mature apart from one variety, “Afara”, in French Polynesia, which is pink or orange-brown.

The flesh varies between cream and light yellow and in fully ripe fruit will appear more yellow to yellow-brown. When fully ripe the flesh is sweet, soft and creamy which may be eaten raw or cooked.

The fruit will either be seedless or have a small or large amount of dark brown seeds, depending on the variety. Breadfruit seeds are round or oblong and compressed looking.

Yields vary considerably within the varieties of fruit.

50 – 200 fruits per tree per year is a guide and some trees have been known to produce 800 fruits per year. On average 100 – 200 fruits per year is normal.

With its limited shelf life breadfruit is usually limited to where it grows in the tropical regions.

Ethnic markets in Canada, United States, United Kingdom and Europe may well have breadfruit available particularly in neighborhoods with a strong Caribbean or Pacific island culture.

Nutritional Benefits ~

It is an important staple food in much of the Pacific region, parts of The Caribbean and other tropical regions of the world.

As it is a starchy food it compares well to potatoes, plantain, rice, taro, sweet potato and cassava. Carbohydrates are the main energy source.

The fruit is a good source of fibre, potassium, magnesium and calcium with smaller amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, iron and niacin.

A few varieties contain folic acid and the yellow flesh varieties contain provitamin A carotenoids.

The seeds of the fruit are edible and may be roasted, boiled or ground into meal. They have the taste and texture of a chestnut and are a good source of protein and minerals.

Breadfruit Trees are Useful

all parts of the tree have a useful purpose.
all parts of the tree have a useful purpose. | Source

Breadfruit Tree Uses ~

  • The uses of this amazing fruit tree reads nearly as extensive as uses of a coconut do.
  • The trees give shelter and provide food to seed dispersers and pollinators including insects, birds, honeybees and fruit bats.
  • The trunk of cherimoya trees grow to a width of 6.5 ft (2 m) and a height of 13 ft (4 m) before branching occurs. The wood is light in color, durable and termite free. The wood is used as a housing material, to build canoes, furniture, handicrafts, bowls and statues.
  • Older trees are a heat source providing firewood particularly in the Atoll Islands.
  • Glue, caulk and chewing gum are made from sticky white latex which is present in all parts of the cherimoya tree.
  • The inner bark is commonly made into cordage or bark fabric.
  • The male flowers are dried and burned to ward off mosquitoes and flying insects.
  • Leaves are used to wrap food that is cooked in traditional earth ovens, as disposable plates and as fans.
  • The bark, leaves and latex are used for their medicinal properties.

Traditional roasting of breadfruit in Tahiti

Medicinal Uses ~

  • Latex is massaged into the skin to treat sprains, broken bones and is bandaged on the back to relieve sciatica.
  • Diluted latex is taken internally to cure dysentery, diarrhea and stomach aches.
  • Crushed leaves are commonly used to treat skin conditions and fungal conditions including thrush.
  • Sap from a crushed leaf stem is used to treat ear infections and irritated eyes.
  • In several islands, the bark is used to treat headaches.
  • The root of cherimoya trees is used in a poultice for treating skin conditions.
  • In the West Indies a yellowing leaf is brewed into a tea and used for lowering high blood pressure, relieving asthma and is thought to control diabetes.

A Healthy Lunch Hawaiian Style

Breadfruit, Yams and Taro.
Breadfruit, Yams and Taro. | Source

Sliced Breadfruit

tastes like bread without salt.
tastes like bread without salt. | Source

Fish & Chips

Breadfruit "chips" and fish . . .for a change!
Breadfruit "chips" and fish . . .for a change! | Source

Eating Breadfruit ~

Although it may be eaten at different stages of maturity, the fruit is best eaten fully developed.

It is a tasty alternative to pasta, potatoes, rice or any starchy root crop.

Traditionally it may be boiled, steamed, fried or roasted when mature and younger fruits are pickled, boiled or marinated.

Depending on the local traditions and dishes, breadfruit is eaten sliced, cubed, mashed or pureed in sweet or savory dishes, baby food and cereal.

In other words, it is totally versatile!

Even the flowers are edible and are often made into sweets.

Breadfruit Basics

Have you eaten breadfruit?

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Author Info ~

Information on the author, her bio and full body of works available @ Suzie HQ

Credit to homesteadbound ~

All dividers used in this hub are used with permission granted on hub, Creating Dividers to Use on Your Hubs

Breadfruit Tree Comments

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    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Rasta,

      Many thanks for popping on over here! How interesting! Sounds delicious, must look you up for dinner when I do get over your to your part of the world!! Always fancied a trip to the land of rum!! Cheers and respect!

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Like most yards around, there a couple breadfruit trees in my yard. I prefer to roast it when it almost ripe, then fry it in coconut oil. A lot of work but delicious.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Carol,

      Many thanks my friend! Always a delight to receive your comments. Breadfruit is a tropical delight that has so many great qualities, if you get the chance, do try it. Cheers Carol and have a great Easter :-)

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I have often wondered about breadfruit..now I know a lot. You did a great job in getting all the information out.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Breadfruit Institute,

      Many thanks for your interest, much appreciated. The work you do is a credit to you and the breadfruit is a wonderful fruit with extensive benefits. Congratulations and continued success.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi teaches,

      Many thanks for the interest. Hopefully you will have this fruit in Florida, you should find it in markets specializing in Asian, Mexican or Hawaiian foods. Enjoy when you taste it!Appreciate your continued support!

    • profile image

      Breadfruit Institute 4 years ago

      Nice to see your detailed writeup on breadfruit which includes so much information from our work on breadfruit, including our Tahiti video.

      To learn more. http://www.breadfruit.org

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      How interesting! I have never had poi nor heard of this fruit, but I am willing to give it a try. Thanks for the education.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Janet,

      Many thanks for dropping by and commenting! The jackfruit is indeed related to breadfruit. Cheers!

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 4 years ago from Georgia country

      Interesting and well presented hub! I have never heard of this fruit before. I only know Jackfruit.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Marcy,

      Lovely to have visit! Good to know you have them available in your part of USA. Hopefully you will give them a taste in the future, they are used in so many recipes and are very big in Hawaii if you are planning a trip there! Many thanks for your lovely comments and for giving it the thumbs up, very much appreciated!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi vibesites,

      Many thanks for your comments and input. It is part of the same family to Jackfruit so is quite similar. Hopefully you will get the opportunity to try it out in some recipes. Thanks very much for your votes vibesites, always great to see you!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Rajan,

      Many thanks for dropping by. The weight is a bit scary and certainly the top end of the scale is not something I would fancy hitting me! Appreciate your comments, votes and for sharing on Rajan as always!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

      I've always wondered about these when I've seen them in stores, and even on a few trees during various trips. Excellent and informative hub! Votes way, way up!

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 4 years ago from United States

      It does look like a jackfruit, which I would sometimes eat as a fruit and (also a) vegetable. Haven't tried the breadfruit although I've seen the tree, which is very tall. Tastes like bread? Wow, that's really amazing then. Soft and creamy texture... it sounds good! I hope to taste it one of these days. :)

      Up, useful, interesting. :)

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very interesting fruit. I haven't seen this here and it does reach an impressive weight. I wouldn't like to stand below a tree with mature fruits, in case the stalk gives way! Indeed a very beautiful and healthy fruit.

      Voted up, useful and interesting. Shared too.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Eddy,

      Lovely to have drop by, glad you found breadfruit interesting! Cheers for giving it the thumbs up from Wales!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Wow how interesting and useful.

      Voted up.

      Eddy.

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Elias,

      Thanks very much for your kind comments. Breadfruit is certainly versatile and a major crop for many countries. Glad you enjoyed learning a wee bit about it! Cheers for votes, you are a star!

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 4 years ago from Athens, Greece

      What an amazingly interesting plant! And a very well-documented article! Thanks for sharing, Suzie! Voted up, useful & interesting! Cheers!

    • Suzie HQ profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Faceless,

      Many thanks for dropping in and commenting. Nice to hear you found interesting, appreciate your votes greatly!

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      What an excellent and interesting hub! Voted up, interesting, useful, and awesome.