After more than 3,000 years in cultivation, the Breadfruit Tree (Artocarpus altilis) is still prized for its fruits in the tropical areas of the world where it grows. But it’s also hardy in USDA Zones 9 through 11, where gardeners can grow this exotic tree and enjoy up to 200 football-sized fruits each year on mature specimens. Even the foliage is super-sized _x0096_ the Breadfruit Tree_x0092_s leaves can grow up to 3 feet long and 2 feet wide!
Steeped in History
In 1789, Captain William Bligh and his crew were returning from an expedition to Tahiti, where Bligh had been dispatched to collect small breadfruit trees. Many crew members committed acts of treason as they commandeered the ship (the HMS Bounty), forced Bligh and other crew members into a smaller boat, and set it adrift. They also threw the breadfruit trees overboard, in a final defiant act. This historic rebellion would forever be known by the movie that tells the story Mutiny on the Bounty.
A Nutritional Powerhouse
Breadfruit is low in fat, cholesterol- and gluten-free, high in complex carbohydrates, and a rich source of antioxidants. A scant ½ cup of breadfruit provides the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for fiber and up to 10 percent of the RDA for protein, potassium, phosphorus, and other elements. It has a potato-like texture, and it can be eaten steamed, boiled, baked, and fried. It_x0092_s commonly used to make breads, pancakes, casseroles, and stews. It can also be used to make hummus.
The Breadfruit Tree contains a milky latex sap that is present in all its parts, including the leaves, stems, and fruit rind. You_x0092_ll know when the fruits are ripe and ready to harvest because small drops of this sticky latex appear on the surface of the fruits!