Friday, 25 January 2013

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis)

The Breadfruit tree is native to the Western Pacific, then spread to the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Northern Australia, and South Florida.

The Breadfruit tree is a fast-growing tree that can reach a height of 25m tall. It has a dense, spreading crown of large and thick leaves. The leaves are pinnate and entire at the base but deeply lobed. They are bright green and glossy on the upper surface and have conspicuous yellow veins but dull yellow and coated with minute, stiff hairs on the underside. They have thick, yellow petioles. All parts of the tree produces latex which can be tapped. 

The flowers are monoecious, with male and female flowers growing on the same tree. The males flowers emerge first followed by the female flowers. The compound false fruit develops from the perianth and originates from 1500 to 2000 flowers. These are visible on the skin of the fruit as hexagon-like disks.

The Breadfruit is generally round, oval or oblong, about 20 to 30cm wide. The skin texture varies from smooth to rough to spiny. The fruit turns from green to light green, yellowish green, or yellow when ripe. The flesh is a creamy white to pale yellow colour. When unripe, the fruit is hard and the interior is white, starchy, and somewhat fibrous. When fully ripe, the fruit is softer, with a creamy yellow colour. It also has a sweet fragrance. The seeds are irregularly oval and rounded at one end while pointed at the other.

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