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Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg

Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg




Artocarpus communis J .R. & G. Forster, Artocarpus camansi Blanco.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Sukun (seedless), kelor (seeded).
English Breadfruit.
Indonesia Sukun (seedless); kelur, timbul (seeded).
Papua New Guinea Kapiak (Pidgin).
Philippines Rimas (seedless), kamansi (seeded).
Cambodia Sakee, khnaor samloo.
Thailand Sa-ke (seedless), khanun-sampalor (central).
Vietnam Sake.
French Arbre a pain.


Geographical Distributions

The exact origin of Artocarpus altilis is uncertain. The centre of genetic diversity extends from Indonesia to Papua New Guinea. In a broad sense, it is native to the Pacific and tropical Asia. It has long been an important staple food in Polynesia. It is now widely distributed throughout the humid tropics.


A. altilis is a monoecious tree, up to 30 m tall, evergreen in the humid tropics and semi-deciduous in monsoon climates. It has a straight trunk, 5-8 m tall, 0.6-1.8 m in diametre and is often buttressed. The trunk of this clonally propagated tree has low branches. The spreading twigs are very thick with pronounced leaf, stipule scars and lenticels. The buds are 10-20 cm long and covered with big conical keeled stipules.

The leaves are arranged alternately, ovate to elliptical in outline, measuring 20-60(-90) cm x 20-40(-50) cm and undivided when young. The older leaves are entire or deeply pinnately cut into 5-11-pointed lobes, thick, leathery, dark green and shiny above while pale green and rough below. The petiole is 3-5 cm long.

The inflorescence is axillary with peduncles 4-8 cm long. The male inflorescences are drooping, club-shaped, measuring 15-25 cm x 3-4 cm, spongy and yellow while the female inflorescences are stiffly upright, spherical or cylindrical, measuring 8-10 cm x 5- 7 cm, green, with numerous flowers embedded in a receptacle, tubular sepal, 2-celled ovary, narrow style and 2-lobed stigma.

The fruit is a syncarp formed from the entire inflorescence, cylindrical to spherical, 10-30 cm in diametre and with yellow-green rind. It is reticulately marked with 4-6-sided faces but sometimes bearing short spines. A large central core is surrounded by numerous abortive flowers which form a pale yellow juicy pulp that is the edible portion of the fruit.

Most cultivated breadfruits are seedless while seeded ones are known as breadnuts. Breadnuts bear fleshy prickles and the edible pulp is largely replaced by the seeds, which are brownish, rounded or flattened and 2.5 cm long. All parts of the tree are rich in white gummy latex.

Ecology / Cultivation

A. altilis is a species of the wet tropics, preferring hot (temperature 20-40°C) and humid (rainfall 2000-3000 mm, relative humidity 70-90%) climate. The latitudinal limits are approximately 17°N and S; the maritime climate of small islands allows growth to 20-23°N. Rain apparently stimulates extension growth, flowering and the rate of growth of the fruit. The tree is occasionally found in the highlands (up to 1500 m) and at higher latitudes. However, yield and fruit quality suffer in cooler conditions and the tree is more at home in the equatorial lowlands (below 600 m altitude). The young trees grow better under shade but later, full sun is required. Tree growth is best on deep, well-drained, moist alluvial soils rich in humus. The trees also grow on shallow coralline soils of the atolls and in New Guinea, they are found at the forest edge in floodplains and swamps. The trees shed their leaves under dry conditions and fruit when the soil is excessively wet. Hence, yield may be depressed on marginal soils. Cultivars differ greatly in their tolerance of adverse conditions; there are cultivars that cope well with shallow calcareous soils, brackish water and salt sprays, annual rainfall of only 1500 or 1000 mm, etc.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.2: Edible fruits and nuts.

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