from Agroforestree Database: a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0
by Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony
Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg
Local Names: Bislama (beta);
Creole (vèritab,laba pen); English (breadfruit,breadnut); Fijian
(uto,kulu); Filipino (kamansi,rimas); French (arbre à
pain,âme veritable,veritable); German (brotfruchtbaum); Hawaian
(ulu); Indonesian (sukun,kelur,timbul); Khmer
(sakéé,khnaôr sâmloo); Malay
(sukun,kuror,kulur); Mandinka (tubab tio); Pidgin English (kapiak);
Portuguese (rimas); Samoan (ulu); Spanish
(castaña,albopán,arbol del pan,pana de
pepitas,panapén); Swahili (mshelisheli); Tamil (seema pila);
Thai (khanun-sampalor,sa-ke); Tongan (mei,mai); Vietnamese
Artocarpus altilis is a
large, attractive, evergreen tree, reaching heights of 15-20 m; bark
smooth, light coloured; trunk up to 1.2 m in diameter, may reach a
height of 4 m before branching; 2 large stipules enclosing the terminal
bud, up to 30 cm long at maturity, yellowing and falling when leaves
fold or inflorescence emerges.
Leaves thick, leathery; top dark
green, often glossy; underside dull with an elevated midrib and main
veins; striking variation in leaf outline and dissection; leaves
broadly obovate to broadly ovate, varying in size and shape; juvenile
leaves on young trees and new shoots of mature trees usually larger,
more dissected and more hirsute; leaves sometimes smooth but often with
few to many pale to reddish hairs, especially on the midrib and veins.
a highly specialized structure, a syncarp, composed of 1500-2000
flowers attached to the fruit axis or core; bulk of fruit formed from
the persistent perianth of each flower; perianths are fused together
except at base. As the fruit develops, this area grows vigorously and
becomes fleshy at maturity, forming the edible portion of the fruit;
tough rind composed of 5- to 7-sided disks, each the surface of an
individual flower; 2-3 strap-shaped, reflexed stigmas protrude from the
centre of the disk and often leave a small distinctive scar when they
blacken and wither; rind at maturity usually stained with latex
Fruit globose to oblong, 12-20 x 12 cm; rind light
green, yellowish-green or yellow when mature, flesh creamy white or
pale yellow; surface varies from smooth to slightly bumpy or spiny,
with individual disks ranging from areolate to slightly raised and
flattened, to widely conical, up to 3 mm high and 5 mm across at the
base, to narrowly conical up to 5 mm long; seedless, some forms seeded.
Seeds have a thin, dark-brown outer skin about 0.5 mm thick and an
inner, fragile, paperlike membrane that surrounds the fleshy, white
edible portion of the seed.
The generic name comes from the
Greek words ‘artos’ (bread) and ‘karpos’
(fruit). The fruit is eaten and is commonly called breadfruit.
trees are monoecious -- male and female flowers occur separately on the
same tree. Male inflorescence emerges before the female. Pollen is shed
10-15 days after the emergence of the male inflorescence, for a period
of about 4 days. Female flowers are receptive 3 days after the
emergence of the female inflorescence from the bracts and open in
successive stages, with basal flowers opening 1st. As with other
members of its genus, A. altilis is cross-pollinated.
have been observed actively working the male inflorescence and
collecting pollen, especially from fertile, seeded accessions. Other
insects such as earwigs have also been observed on the male
inflorescence. Only a few flowers in the male inflorescence of seedless
A. altilis produce and release
pollen. Pollen grains from fertile cultivars are uniformly shaped and
stain well, while triploid cultivars have the lowest pollen
sustainability, averaging 6-16%. Pollen grains are typically malformed,
clumped and poorly stained. A. altilis is diploid (2n = 56) and triploid (2n = 84).
is a crop for the hot, humid, tropical lowlands. Rain stimulates
extension growth, flowering and rate of growth of the fruit. It prefers
rainfall of fairly equal distribution but is quite tolerant of short
dry periods. A. altilis grows
best in equatorial lowlands; it is occasionally found in the highlands,
but yield and fruit quality suffer in cooler conditions. Good drainage
is essential, and trees may shed their fruit when the soil is
(0) 600-650 (1 550) m, Mean annual temperature: (12) 21-32 (40) deg. C,
Mean annual rainfall: 1 500 (2 000)-2 500 (3 000) mm
Can be grown on a variety of soils and thrives on alluvial and coastal
soils. They do best in deep, fertile, welldrained sandy loam or clay
loam soils. Some cultivars, especially interspecific hybrids, have
adapted to shallow, calcareous soils and appear to tolerate high saline
Documented Species Distribution
Native: Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines
Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Byelarus,
Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic,
Fiji, French Guiana, French Polynesia, Gambia, Grenada, Guadeloupe,
Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kiribati,
Madagascar, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritius, Mexico,
Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk
Island, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, St
Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Taiwan,
Province of China, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, US, Vanuatu, Virgin
map above shows countries where the species has been planted. It does
neither suggest that the species can be planted in every ecological
zone within that country, nor that the species can not be planted in
other countries than those depicted. Since some tree species are
invasive, you need to follow biosafety procedures that apply to your
Breadfruit is versatile and can be cooked and eaten at all stages of
its development. It can be eaten raw, boiled, steamed or roasted. Very
small fruits, 2-6 cm or larger in diameter, can be boiled and have a
flavour similar to that of artichoke hearts. They can also be pickled
and marinated. As breadfruit is a seasonal crop that produces much more
than can be consumed fresh, Pacific Islanders have developed many
techniques to use large harvests and extend availability of the fruit.
The most common method of preservation is by preparing the fermented,
pit-preserved breadfruit called ma, masi, mahr, furo or bwiru. In many
areas, the male inflorescence is pickled or candied.
with other staple starch crops, breadfruit is a better source of
protein than is cassava; it is comparable to sweet potato and banana.
It is a relatively good source of iron, calcium, potassium and
riboflavin. Fermented breadfruit and breadfruit paste are both
traditional products. Processing breadfruit into a snack such as chips,
flour, pulverized starch or even freeze-drying it are all common
methods of consuming or preserving it.
The seeds are cooked with
the raw breadfruit or removed and roasted or boiled. They are firm,
close-textured and have a sweet, pleasant taste that is most often
compared with chestnuts. Both fresh and cooked seeds are about 8%
protein. The seeds are a good source of protein and are low in fat,
compared with tree nuts such as almond, brazil nut and macadamia nut,
which contain 50-70% fat. The seeds are a good source of minerals and
contain more niacin than cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts,
pecans, black walnuts or chestnuts.
Since only the pulp of mature breadfruit is consumed as human food, at
least 25% of the fruit is wasted. The non-edible portions are high in
carbohydrates, contain more protein than the pulp and are excellent
sources of nutrients. Leaves are eaten by livestock and can be fed to
cattle, goats, pigs and horses. They have even been reported to be good
food for elephants. Horses will eat the bark, young branches and shoots
and must therefore be kept away from new plantings. Excess ripe
breadfruit, seeds, cores and other breadfruit waste are fed to pigs and
Fuel: The trees are an important source of firewood on the atolls of the Pacific.
Fibre: The male flower spikes are blended with fibre of paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera)
to make elegant loincloths. The inner layer of bark, or bast, was used
to make bark cloth (tapa). Traditionally it had ceremonial and ritual
uses, was also used for beddings and items of clothing such as cloaks,
loincloths and robes. Breadfruit bast makes good cordage with a diverse
range of uses such as harnesses for water buffalo and nets for catching
Timber: The wood
is differentiated into yellow or brownish-yellow sapwood and heartwood,
golden speckled with orange. The golden yellow colour darkens with age.
The wood is very light (density 505-645 kg/cubic m at 15% mc), durable,
soft, but quite resistant in spite of its low specific gravity.
Traditionally it was widely used for construction of houses and canoes
because of its resistance to termites and marine worms. The wood is
used in Haiti to make bowls, carvings, furniture and even surfboards.
Gum or resin: A. altilis
gum is used to caulk canoes to make them watertight and can be used as
an adhesive to seal and prepare wooden surfaces for painting.
Latex or rubber:
A sticky latex is present in all parts of the tree and has many uses.
It is used as a chewing gum in the Caribbean and elsewhere. The sap is
widely used throughout the Pacific and other areas as birdlime to catch
birds for food and their feathers. In Kosrae, the latex is mixed with
coconut oil for trapping houseflies.
Tannin or dyestuff: The inflorescence was used in Hawaii to make a yellow tan to brown dye.
The fat extracted from the seed is a light yellow liquid, viscous at
room temperature, with a characteristic odour similar to that of
peanuts. It has a chemical number and physical properties similar to
those of olive oil.
Poison: In Vanuatu and Hawaii the dried, hard flowers are burned as mosquito repellent.
Toasted flowers are rubbed on the gums around aching teeth to ease
pain. Latex is massaged into the skin to treat broken bones and sprains
and is bandaged on the spine to relieve sciatica. It is commonly used
to treat skin ailments and fungal diseases such as thrush. The latter
is also treated with crushed leaves. Diluted latex is taken internally
to treat diarrhoea, stomach-ache and dysentery. Latex and juice from
the crushed leaves are both traditionally used in the Pacific Islands
to treat ear infections. The root is an astringent and is used as a
purgative; when macerated it was used as a poultice for skin ailments.
The bark is used in several Pacific Islands to treat headache.
the West Indies, the yellowing leaf is brewed into a tea and taken to
reduce high blood pressure. The tea is also thought to control
diabetes. Leaves are used in Taiwan to treat liver diseases and fevers,
and an extract from the flowers was effective in treating ear oedema.
Bark extracts exhibited strong cytotoxic activities against leukaemia
cells in tissue culture, and extracts from roots and stem barks showed
some antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive bacteria and may have
potential in treating tumours.
The leaves are widely used to wrap food for cooking and serving. The
dried stipules or senescent leaves are slightly rough, and in Hawaii
they were used to polish and smooth bowls and nuts strung for
decorative purposes. In the atolls of Yap, the leaves are used to make
fishing kites to catch reef fish.
Shade or shelter: A. altilis
is a long-lived, perennial tree crop that provides beneficial shade and
cooler microclimate for humans, plants and animals beneath its canopy.
Soil improver: The tree can be used to provide mulch.
It is an important component of traditional agroforestry systems in the
Pacific Islands, particularly the eastern Solomon Islands, Pohnpei and
Kosrae. The trees are integrated into mixed cropping systems with yams
and other root crops, Piper methysticum, bananas and some cash crops, especially black pepper and coffee.
Boundary or barrier or support: In the Pacific, yam vines are often grown with the tree, using its branches and canopy for support.
Ornamental: Occasionally grown as an ornamental in the humid areas of Gambia.
should be set out at the onset of the rainy season, and supplementary
irrigation may be required to help the trees establish. Once
established, they require little attention or input of labour or
materials. Trees generally do not require any training or pruning
except to remove dead branches and to trim them to a height convenient
for cultivation. They are known to grow and fruit well without
irrigation, even in areas with a distinct dry season.
Regardless of the method used for propagation, young plants do best under shade, but trees require full sun once established.
orchard would require thorough land preparation consisting of deep
ploughing followed by harrowing. Approximately 100 trees/ha can be
planted if spaced 12 x 8 m or 10 x 10 m apart.
display recalcitrant storage behaviour. The short-lived seeds should
not be allowed to dry out and should be kept moist at 20 deg. C. Seeds
germinate immediately and are unable to withstand desiccation, hence
loose viability within a few weeks and cannot be stored. Wherever seeds
occur they are distributed by flying foxes.
Pests and Diseases
is a hardy tree and is relatively free of diseases and pests, although
scale insects, mealy bugs and Cercospora leafspot may be seen on many
trees. Pest problems seem to be regional. For example the 2-spotted
leaf hopper has been observed damaging trees in Hawaii; Rastrococcus invadens is becoming a pest in certain parts of West Africa, and Rosellinina
spp. has been reported as a potential threat in Trinidad and Grenada.
Several causal organisms are responsible for fruit rot on breadfruit.
Fruits may be affected by Phytophthora, Colletotrichum (anthracnose)
and Rhizopus (soft rot), but these can be controlled by prompt harvest
of mature fruits and removal of diseased fruits.
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