Artocarpus camansi and Artocarpus altilis

Let’s just say that the errors are piling up re: the software upgrade for BPotD, but at least some attempts at resolution will be made soon. On to more pleasant things: Taisha wrote today’s entry:

Today we have photographs of two species from the genus Artocarpus of the Moraceae (the fig or mulberry family). These photos were sent in to us by frequent BPotD contributor Ian Crown, owner of the Panoramic Fruit Company. Thanks for sharing Ian!

The first photo shows the two side by side, with Artocarpus altilis on the right, and Artocarpus camansi on the left. The other two images are of Artocarpus camansi (in habit and a cross-section of the fruit). Artocarpus is from the Greek artos for “bread” and karpos meaning “fruit”. Artocarpus is a genus of about 60 species. Growing as either evergreen or deciduous trees, the genus occupies the hot, humid, regions of tropical southeastern Asia and the Pacific Islands. In addition to being used as a food source due to the large edible fruits, some species within the genus are also used in folk medicine or as a source of timber.

Artocarpus altilis, or the breadfruit, originated in the western Pacific in New Guinea and associated islands, with the Bismarck Archipelago being the centre for diversity for wild-seeded forms. According to Breadfruit: Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg by Diane Ragone, in the late 1600s European explorers traveled to the Oceanic region and were impressed with the fruits of Artocarpus altilis. With a new source for food for hungry sailors, and the potential to feed inhabitants and slaves in the West Indies, Europeans began disseminating this species. Cultivars from Tahiti were transported to other Pacific Islands, the Philippines, and, later, to the Caribbean with Captain Bligh on his second expedition to the West Indies (the first was unsuccessful due to mutiny). This species is now common in many tropical regions, including the Caribbean, Central and South America, and coastal West Africa.

Breadfruit is a large evergreen tree that reaches a height of 15-20 metres. The bark is smooth and light-coloured, and internally the tree has latex present in all parts. Two large stipules enclose the terminal bud and may reach up to 30cm at maturity–later yellowing and falling with the unfolding of thick, dark-green leaves or emergence of the inflorescence. The fruits of this species are known as a syncarp–a composition of many individual fruitlets (1500-2000) attached to one central core that contains numerous latex tubes and large vascular bundles. The edible portion of Artocarpus altilis is the persistent perianth of each flower that grows and becomes fleshy after pollination. The rind of the fruit is the hardened surface of each flower, which is somewhat smooth with scars remaining where the stigmas protruded. This species may have no seeds to many, depending on the variety.

Artocarpus camansi, or breadnut, naturally occurs in the Philippines, New Guinea, and possibly the Moluccas and is rarely seen anywhere else in the Pacific Islands. Introduced to other tropical areas by Europeans around the end of the 18th century (there are contradictory reports on the dates), the breadnut is now widespread throughout the Caribbean, parts of Central and South America, and coastal West Africa. Breadnut trees are also large, growing up to 20 metres tall. The fruits of these species, also a syncarp, have a spiky skin and hold numerous seeds–making up for 30-50% of the fruit mass. Birds and flying foxes that feed on the flesh spread the seeds of the breadnut through dropping the inedible portions.

Other comparisons between the two species: Artocarpus altilis has broadly obovate to ovate leaves that are deeply pinnately-lobed with a smooth blade that has few to many pale reddish hairs, particularly on the midrib and veins, while Artocarpus camansi has pinnately-lobed leaves that are densely pubescent on upper and lower surfaces, midribs, and veins.

The (USA) National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawai’i contains the Breadfruit Institute. Dr. Diane Ragone and her team at the institute promote the conservation and use of breadfruit for food and reforestation. They manage the largest and most extensive breadfruit collection in the world. In addition, they are engaged in initiatives to respond to global food security issues through developing partnerships to make breadfruit varieties available as a resource for agriculture, agroforestry, and reforestation.

Artocarpus camansi and Artocarpus altilis
Artocarpus camansi
Artocarpus camansi

2 responses to “Artocarpus camansi and Artocarpus altilis”

  1. Jay Ess

    Thank you so much for the shout-out for the Breadfruit Institute. As a longtime supporter, I know that Diane and her team are doing amazing work with breadfruit in the areas you mention but also in the critical area of food security. If you’ve never tasted breadfruit “potato salad” you’re in for a treat!

  2. Yvette Gayomali

    Thanks for featuring this fruit- veggie in nature. Camansi grows in my my Province Ililoi, Philippines and we have variety of use, from medicine, dessert, vegetable and art. This fruit is so versatile and delicious either be used in viant or dessert. Mom used to boil the seeds and eat it for our snacks, it is a source of protein & carbohydrate as well. Now, you tickled my craving!

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