Article from The Master Gardening Bench, Manatee County Master Gardener Newsletter
by John Dawson
Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)
is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia, and is believed to have
originated in the southwestern rain forests of India, where it has been
an important food crop for over 6,000 years. It is the national fruit
of Bangladesh. The name Jackfruit is derived from the Portuguese word
for the fruit “Jaca” and was called “Jacks” by
the early English colonizers. It is also a distant larger relative of
The unripe fruit (inedible unless processed),
fruit pulp and seeds (boiled or roasted) are all used in various
recipes. To me, the fruit pulp reminds me of the aroma and flavor of
“Juicy Fruit” gum, which is a melding of peach, banana,
cantaloupe and pineapple flavors. The skin of unripe jack fruit must be
peeled first and discarded, then the whole fruit can be chopped and
cooked (sometimes with coconut milk) to be eaten. When unripe (green),
it is remarkably similar in texture to chicken, making jackfruit an
excellent vegetarian substitute for poultry and has been referred to
and can be found in cans as “vegetable meat”. It is also
boiled and used in curries. Roasted seeds are supposed to taste
somewhat like chestnuts.
The tree if left unpruned, can reach a
height of up to 40 feet. The homeowner can maintain a jackfruit tree at
fifteen feet by judicious pruning after fruiting, which usually occurs
in spring/summer. Jackfruit develops massive fruits from the trunk and
lower branches (truly awesome, you have to see one attached to a tree
to believe how big they really get). Because the flowers and fruits
develop directly from the trunk they are termed cauliflorous. Since
individual jackfruits are composed of many ripened ovaries from many
densely-packed female flowers, they are technically referred to as
multiple fruits (think pineapple).
Jackfruit is the largest
tree-borne fruit in the world, reaching 80 pounds in weight and up to
36 inches long and 20 inches in diameter. The exterior of the compound
fruit is very bumpy and is light green or slightly yellow when ripe.
The interior consists of large edible pods of yellow, fruity-flavored
flesh that encloses a smooth, oval, light-brown seed. The seeds are 3/4
to 1.5 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick. There can be as many as
100 to 500 seeds in a single fruit, which are viable for no more than
three or four days (so plant quickly).
When fully ripe, the
unopened jackfruit emits a strong disagreeable odor, resembling that of
decaying onions, while the pulp of the opened fruit smells of
“Juicy Fruit” gum.
Jackfruit trees in the home
garden require full sun about 25 feet away from other trees and
structures and in an area that does not flood after heavy rains. The
tree when acclimated, will withstand occasional freezes; however,
leaves may be damaged at 32°F , young branches at 30°F, and
young trees may be killed at 28°F (>6 hrs).
may be propagated by seed, grafting, and cuttings. Jackfruit from seed
may begin fruit production in the 3rd to 4th year. If you want to try
growing from seed, remove all of the pulp, collect the seed and plant
to a depth covering ½ to ¾ inch of soil. Plant seedlings
when they attain heights of 2 to 4 ft.
The best time to plant
these seedlings is in late spring or early summer, early in the rainy
season. Dig a hole 3 to 4 times the diameter and 3 times as deep as
your pot. Backfill the hole with some of the soil removed to make the
hole. Remove the tree from the container and place it in the hole so
that the top of the soil media in the container is slightly above the
surrounding soil level. Fill soil in around the tree roots and tamp
slightly to remove all air pockets. Water the soil around the tree
roots and apply mulch keeping at least 10 inches from the trunk. Do not
fertilize at planting.
See “Jackfruit Growing in the
Florida Home Landscape” (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg370) for more
detailed information regarding the care of your tree. There are many
“You Tube” videos showing how to prepare Jackfruit and
Googling “Jackfruit Recipes” will yield hundreds of recipes.