Gerald L. Klingaman
Plant Common Name
Captain William Bligh of the HMS Bounty brought breadfruit to the West Indies in the 1790s from his journeys across the South Pacific. While the precise origins of the breadfruit tree are not clear, it's likely native to Indonesia and Malaysia. Its movement by man is largely to blame. Through the centuries, peoples cultivated it for its fruit and wood and seeds were carried eastward as the islands of the South Pacific became inhabited.
Breadfruit is a fast-growing tropical tree. Both the fruit's flesh and seeds are edible and its strong, lightweight wood is used in boat-making and building. It is fully evergreen producing glossy emerald green leaves that are deeply lobed and attractive. Light yellow veins run through the lobes. Male or female flowers arise on different branches on the same tree at different times at anytime of year, but especially in summer and winter. Male flowers are long, club-like and yellow-green. Female blossoms persist longer, resembling rounded balls of tiny blossoms. Insects pollinate the flowers, with female blossoms maturing into a pale yellowish green, large mango-sized fruit with warty skin. Seedless forms of the fruit are more commonly grown for commerce. But trees that produce seeded fruits are also eaten for their seeds, which are called breadnuts. The large seeds taste like chestnuts when roasted. During periods of drought, both leaves and fruits can abort.
Breadfruit tree is a true tropical plant that requires full sun and fertile soil rich in organic matter. Fast-growing, it becomes a more beautiful tree if provided consistent regular moisture and sun. Use it as a shade tree near the beach or in a spacious park or residential yard.
Breadfruit flesh is dense and white and looks a lot like that of a potato. The fruits do not store well and must be boiled and eaten quickly for the best taste and nutritive value. Boil, fry or bake the starchy fruits.
Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Shade Trees, Tropical
Sharp or Has Thorns