Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Artocarpus atilis

Here in Waimea Valley Botanical Garden, we now visit the breadfruit tree, or Artocarpus atilis. I saw this tree elsewhere in Honolulu and was always struck by the huge feathery leaves. With such big leaves (check out the bottom pic, my foot's about 8" long so the leaf must be close to 20") you'd expect a coarser texture in the canopy but the deep narrow leaf sinuses soften the whole look.

Sadly, this member of the mulberry (Moraceae) family was not in fruit, as I would have loved trying it out. It's called breadfruit, obviously enough, because the plant is very, very starchy. It's about a quarter carbs and the rest is water. Because of it's starchiness, it's often baked or fried.

Breadfruit is also a very high-fruiting tree, producing impressive fruit yields. In fact, Captain William Bligh and his infamous Bounty crew was tasked with harvesting breadfruit from Tahiti so the British could cultivate it in the Caribbean. They aimed to do so because the plant would be a fast and cheap source of food for British slaves. Ugh.

Artocarpus is literally Greek for breadfruit. Artos means bread and carpus means fruit or body.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Jenn - Is this endemic to Hawaii or a common tropical plant? I think I saw this in Honduras but couldn't ID it.