Skip to main content


Artocarpus altilis

Family: Moraceae | Place of Origin: Malaya

Origins: Breadfruit originated in Malaya, but is now widespread throughout the tropics, particularly in Polynesia. Breadfruit is a staple crop in the pacific islands since it produces high yields under low input. An eight-year-old tree can be known to produce 700-800 fruits.  

Domestication: Breadfruit it most likely derived from Artocarpus camansi. The location of domestication is unknown, but some origins may be New Guinea, the Moluccas, and the Philippines. 

History: Globalization of Breadfruit is recorded in “The Mutiny on the Bounty.” The story states that Captain James Cook saw the trees on his voyages in the Pacific and thought breadfruit would be a good food for slaves in the West Indies. Captain William Bligh was commission to bring the trees over, but due to a mutiny onboard the trees never made it. The cause of the mutiny is unclear, but it was led by Fletcher Christian, a sailor onboard. Captain Bligh and 18 sailors were found a month and a half later, on a small boat in Timor.  This voyage was unsuccessful, but three years later Bligh remade the journey to the West Indies. Unfortunately, the locals didn’t like breadfruit, they preferred other starches such as bananas and plantains. The effort was not in vain though since the trees are still used for ornamental value and occasionally food.

Identification characteristics  

Uses and preparation

Seedless breadfruit is prepared by boiling or baking, the seeded type is grown mostly for its seeds, called breadnuts, which are cooked and eaten. In the pacific, the fibrous inner bark is used to make a cloth. It can also be ground up and used for bread. In Hawaii, the latex is used for mouth sores and has been used to treat broken bones and sprain by being massaged into the skin. Diarrhea, stomachaches, and dysentery are treated by drinking a diluted mixture of the latex. The sap and latex are used to treat sore eyes and ear infections. Finally, the root is used as a purgative, and it can be macerated to treat skin ailments.