Selected Trees and Shrubs
Artocarpus heterophyllus, Common name: Jackfruit, Jacktree
Plant Family: Belongs to the Moraceae or Fig family, which includes the Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), Fije of the Dominica forests(Ficus citrifolia), and the popular Fig of commerce (F. carica).
Description: A handsome tree; famous for bearing the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, reaching 36 kg (80 lb), 90 cm long (36 in) and 50 cm diameter (20 in); tree large, moderately quick growing evergreen with profuse milky sap, reaching up to 24 m (80 ft) in natural habitat; one Botanic Gardens specimen, located short distance south of Fish Pond, is much less imposing at about 7 m (23 ft); branching starts near ground; leaves oblong or elliptical, 10-15 cm in length (4-6 in), leathery, glossy, and deep green; flowers in unisexual spikes on same tree, on short, stout stems that sprout from trunk and branches; male spikes, found on younger branches above female spikes, are fleshy and cylindrical, up to 10 cm in length (4 in); flowers tiny and pale green when young, darkening with age; female spikes are larger, elliptical or rounded, reportedly pollinated by insects and wind; compound fruit borne on trunk and older branches, is large, light green, oblong, typically weighing 5-25 kg (11-55 lb), 30-40 cm long (12-16 in) and 20-27 cm diameter (8-11 in); skin of young fruit has pyramidal projections; flesh firm with numerous seeds in yellow, edible aril, all in a cream, somewhat fibrous matrix; when ripe aril has sweet, exceedingly pleasant, banana-pineapple flavor; seeds, also edible, are light brown, conical, 2-3 cm long (0.8-1.2 in), 100-500 per fruit, but with short, one month viability; fruits mature in 3-6 months after flowering, with color change from light green to yellow-brown when ripe; after ripening, fruit turns brown and deteriorates quickly; two principal varieties – one with thin, fibrous, and mushy edible pulp when ripe, very sweet, with pungent odor; the other with thick, firm, crisp, less fragrant pulp when ripe, more palatable to West Indian tastes and more important commercially; wood resembles mahogany, is medium hard, very durable, and resistant to termites.
Natural Habitat: Moderately rainy, humid areas of tropics; but grows in wide range of maritime tropical and subtropical climates; propagated primarily by seed; in India, air-layering also common; plants usually take 4-14 years to bear, with one cultivar, Singapore, bearing in 18-24 months.
Origin and Distribution: Believed to be indigenous to the rainforests of SW India; but widely cultivated in SE Asia; also cultivated in E. Africa, as well as Brazil and the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; and grows successfully as far north as south Florida.
Uses: Numerous, but grown mainly for its fruit, though timber and latex are important;ripe fruit arils eaten fresh, are succulent, aromatic, flavorful and delicious; ripe fruit fermented and distilled to produce an alcoholic liquor; immature fruits cut up and cooked as a carbohydrate; seeds boiled or roasted and eaten like breadnut or chestnut, or ground and added to flour for baking; young leaves and young male spikes cooked as vegetable; leaves and fruit-waste used as animal fodder; wood considered superior, takes beautiful polish and used in furniture, cabinet making and turnery; wood chips yield dye used to color orange-red robes of Buddhist priests; heated latex forms glue used for mending chinaware and pottery, and caulking boats and buckets; medicinally, all parts of plant and latex said to have medicinal properties – among them, wood has sedative property; pith said to produce abortion, leaves used for ulcers, root for fever and diarrhea, and latex for abscesses and snake bite.
Indigenous Legends and Anecdotes: In China, roasted seeds consumed as aphrodisiac; in S. India, fruit is one of three auspicious fruits, along with mango and banana.
Robert A. DeFilipps. Useful Plants of the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1998.
Elevitch, Craig R. and Harley I. Manner: Artocarpus heterophyllus (Jackfruit). Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry, Traditional Tree Initiative, Holualoa, Hawaii, April 2006. [http://agroforestry.net/tti/A.heterophyllus-jackfruit.pdf]
California Rare Fruit Growers: Jackfruit – Artocarpus heterophyllus. San Francisco, CA, 1996. [http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/jackfruit.html]
Palm Beach Rare Fruit Council: Jackfruit Cleaning Instructions (video). Palm Beach, FL, Oct. 2010. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnbbAVcULKo&feature=related]
Anon. [Joseph Jones?]: Official Guide to the Botanic Gardens, Dominica. Kew Gardens, London 1924?
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