Article from the Tropical Fruit News magazine of the Miami Rare Fruit Council International
Lecture by Dr. Richard Campbell, Curator of Tropical Fruits at Fairchild Tropical Garden
The Promise of Jakfruit
Reported by Bob Samack
Dr. Campbell gave us a brief introduction to
the fascinating jakfruit. "It is everywhere" in Malaysia, Indonesia and
India. "The ripe fruit are eaten, the green fruit are used as
vegetables, the wood is used to make buildings, lumber, they use the
seeds in cattle feed. You can also cook the seeds in fire ... The
culture just fits into the whole life in Asia. Jakfruits were brought
to the New World by the Portuguese into Brazil in the mid 17th
century.i.All through Rio de Janeiro and Bahia and in different area of
Brazil you do find very large jakfruit trees. "
began his slide presentation, showing jakfiuit trees with good sized
fruit, growing in a parkin downtown Rio de Janeiro. "Last Christmas I
found a fruit in the botanical gardens the weight 125 pounds .. on a
tree that was growing up on the hillside .. a pretty impressive fruit;
These are huge trees, all seedling grown that have been planted a long
time ago. and there are seedling trees spread all throughout this area
.. some of these jakfiuits are good and some .. are bad.
are two distinct types of jakfiuits found in this area of Brazil just
like .. in Asia .. soft jaks and .. crisp jaks. Some of them are
extremely soft which I must admit take a little more getting used to
than the crisp ones because the soft ones kind of lay in you throat
like a slug .. They are very good but do take a little bit of getting
used to. Some of the crisp ones ... might be more palatable to some
"Jakfruits were brought to Florida over 100 years ago.
There used to be a tree in Matheson Hammock (and) trees in Coconut
Grove ... planted over 80 years ago. Mostof those trees are gone. The
problem is in South Florida we have hurricanes so the trees can't get
real big ... " They also succumb to cold, disease or other problems. He
showed a slide of a "tree ... that was at the University of Florida
experiment Station in homestead .. brought in 1935. (It) is still there
and still produces crops like this every year. They never ripen to
maturity because they are stolen .. In about a month after this they
will be gone. They ... are right by a parking lot and prime targets .
.A few big trees around do put on good crops like this. II
the University of Florida's Tropical Research Education Center
(TREC)·are two jakfruits which are grafted trees from Thailand:
TREC #1 and TREC #2. "One is pretty good quality. Now things have
changed in jakfruits." Before, local trees were seedlings. "Then people
started to get a lot more interested in jakfruit, for instance the RFC.
Many of the people in this room, the people that brought in NS-1, (
are) the people that brought in Tabouey and other named cultivarsout of
Asia, Thailand, Australia and other places." Jakfruit "has gone from
more of a backyard curiosity to a potential commercial crop (and) a
wonderful tree for your yard. We really have turned the comer from
these very large trees that just gave you a couple of fruit, to now
(when) you can grow them as a crop (with) a lot of different cultivars.
the fruit program at Fairchild Tropical Garden, I was fortunate enough
when I came in to inherit a large number of grafted jakfruit trees in a
greenhouse ... (from) Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Hawaii, Sri Lanka
and a few other places. These were very large trees and in desperate
need to go into the ground. So this is immediately what we did, "They
were planted out "into a collection on the property of the Montgomery
Foundation where we have our FTG collections .. .in June of 1992."
These named, grafted varieties were all labeled, with excellent records
as to their source and history.
"Then of course, Hurricane
Andrew came in August ... and pretty much leveled the collection.'!
Slides depicted the orchard soon after Andrew's wrath, and about six
weeks later. Some of the jakfruits were left standing. "This was quite
a distressing thing to me ... The amazing thing about jakfruit however,
is that once we did set them up they survived and started growing
jakfruit trees had been held in containers for five or six years, and
when planting them out, Dr. Campbell discovered they were severely
rootbound. "You put them in the ground and they would just sit there.
Then, of course, hurricanes flattening them doesn't help either." To
encourage the young jakfruit, they started approach-grafting them in
"I planted a seedling next to the trunk of the tree
that was weak and not growing, and opened up a hole in the existing
jakfruit and stretched the seedling right up to the cleft that I had
cut into the existing tree ... after you do that, when you cut the tops
of the seedlings off after they took, (are) two seedlings stocks
growing into that tree ... giving that tree a whole new root system.
The roots of that tree were so wound around you could have screwed (it)
into the ground ... lt had quite an effect." He showed slides of trees
which displayed much healthy growth after about six weeks, and after a
year." We got an incredible response in out trees ... very good new
growth and a great deal of vigor ... they started growing again like
they should ... We got blooming starting in that collection in January
and February of 1993 ...
"He showed a picture of a jakfruit
called "Black Gold" which was only five feet tall, bearing five fruit
on it. One of the nice things about jakfruit is that "you really have
to search to find a pest". He showed a slide with a chewed petiole:
right after Andrew there was a lot of this type of puzzling damage;
Eventually they found it to be from 10 moths, which normally feed
on mangroves. "We are right on the bay and when the mangroves got
destroyed (the moths) came into my jakfruits and defoliated limbs ...
but jakfruit really don't have a lot of diseases or a lot of insect
He showed a mango photo to make a point: "Florida has
become a center for diversity for mango cultivars" over the years as
germplasm from around the world has been established here and cultivars
selected out and sent back out globally. Dr. Campbell believes the same
thing should be done with jakfruit; at present they have 19 cultivars
from several countries in their collection.
"We want to make use
of this wonderful resource that we have. So how are we using it? ...
Bob McNaughton has been working with us a lot in Articarpus, and
injakfruit specifically, doing genealogical work, that is, measuring
fruits. I personally had no idea how log it was from blooming to
ripening of a jakfruit. I needed to find out some basic things so 1
know how many days it is until I have a jakfruit ripe. So we did growth
curves. We measured fruit every three days in the field to see how they
grew when they ripened and then started doing evaluations That's been
some very important
work. . . in the collection.
to this idea of using this genetic resource we have. What is nice about
jakfruits is you can do controlled crosses on them very easily. Besides
just letting the trees in the collection outcrop with each other,
exchange pollen by pollinators or by wind, I'm helping them along a
little bit ... we're taking male blooms ... rub your hand down it to
get pollen allover your hand ... go over to your female bloom on the
other tree and just rub you hand on the female inflorescence, then
throw a bag over that whole thing. And you do that every day basically.
We go out and pollinate these jakfruits of specific varieties. I'm
pollinating Black Gold with Gold Nugget, Gold Nugget with Fa-Talom,
Fa-Talom with Dang Rasimi .. Then the idea is to distribute seeds as
well as trees to people like you all in here. 1 want to see these
things growing out and select out new seedlings from this collection."
slide showed a "diseased fruit lip there, that black male bloom. I hear
a lot of people talking about what do you spray to control that black
fungus on jakfruit. There is no reason to spray to control the black
fungus. (It) ... comes in on the male bloom after it's dying or going
down hill. So if you ever see this on your jakfruit tree, don't go
looking for something to spray it with. That's perfectly normal and you
can take this fruit and rub it all up against a female fruit .. don't
worry about it.
"The other idea besides distributing seeds from
this controlled process is propagation. This is a good hot topic. If
any of you know how to graft jakfruits out there I'm going to bar the
door and pick your brain. I've been doing veneer grafts on these to
make trees for the fall sale. We will have quite a few trees for sale
at the fall sale for FTG this year ... AII the cultivars we have
fruiting now we will have available. I don't know how many we'll have
because jakfiuit are difficult to propagate vegetatively. They are
difficult to graft. What I've been doing is veneer grafting them like
this when they are very vigorous in the late fall and early spring. and
actually I've been having pretty good success with it. You put a veneer
on like that and the leaf will break out two Of three days .. It's been
pretty successful. I've been getting 60 to 70 percent survival so far
thisspring on grafting these. But we're talking about limited numbers
so don't hold me to this. I don't want to say that it's a great way to
graft jakfruits because I haven't done it enough to know. But that's
the other idea with the collection. We want to take these cultivars and
get them out into the public so people can start testing them out
He read their list of cultivars: "Black Gold, Tina,
Dang Rasimi, Delightful, Leung Bang Bong, Galaxy, Gold Nugget, Hess,
Honey Gold, 1-30 and J-31, Lemon Gold, NS-1, Tabouey. We have different
seedlings out of Brazil. .. a couple of seedlings out of Indonesia. We
have Dr. McNaughton's giant jakfruit, which .. started sprouting out
like crazy and is doing real well. Also Leung Bang Bong and both of the
seedlings out of TREC. we have two to three, hopefully, of each of the
cultivars in the collection."
Due to the hurricane, his
collection has "only seen one good year of fruiting ... Last year we
had quite a lot of fruit and this year we're going to have much greater
fruiting ... A little six foot tree last year put on seven jakfruit
averaging about 25 pounds and very good quality" His slide
displayed one that "was a little bit far gone. It had come off in the
heat of the summer and we didn't find it for a couple of days .. .1 had
it in my office and it scared everyone out of the building when it
started ripening. One thing you have to be careful about jakfruits is
your family may not like you if you have one ripening in your house ...
some do have a strong aroma (like) Black Gold ... The quality is very
good with this jak but medium crisp, a little bit less crisp than NS-l,
at least the fruit-we had last year. We now have fruiting on all three
of the trees we have .. We are probably going to get a lot more
evaluations on this tree this year. It is quite precocious. These trees
that are fruiting have only been in the ground for two and a half years
and were grafted in '90. So they're five years old. The seedlings could
have been older.