What is Breadfruit – EVERYTHING about it

In this blog you’ll find out the characteristics of the breadfruit tree (both the fruit and the tree), the main types of breadfruit, and its properties, history, main producers, how it is cultivated and some breadfruit-based products.   

What is breadfruit and what are its characteristics? 

Scientific nameArtocarpus altilis 
Common nameBreadfruit, sweet breadfruit, panapen, sake.
Place of OriginPacific Islands and Southeast Asia: (Indonesia: Moluccas, Philippines, New Guinea)
HabitatTropical zones, warm climates free of droughts, and temperate and rainy climates
DistributionPolynesia, Insular America, tropical areas of South America, and Central America.

Breadfruit is a tropical fruit given by the breadfruit tree.

Characteristics of the breadfruit plant   

The breadfruit plant is called breadfruit tree and is a hermaphroditic plant that belongs to the Moraceae family and the genus Artocarpus.

Once it reaches maturity it can reach a maximum size of 21 meters, but the average is about 13 meters. Its trunk averages two meters wide and yields moist, whitish milk-like latex.   

Breadfruit leaves  

Its leaves are notoriously shiny and have a light green tone on the outside, as opposed to the reverse side, which is more opaque and yellowish.  

They are oval, measure between 23 and 90 cm long and up to 50 cm wide.  

One leaf of this fruit can be divided into 5 to 11 protruding sections and the youngest plants have more of these divisions.

What is breadfruit like?   

The main reason it is so named is that its flesh is often compared to bread, except it is gluten-free. The fruit is round and has small spikes that sometimes resemble a pear.  

This fruit is larger than most fruits, averaging 30 cm in diameter and weighing 2 to 4 kilograms. Its peel is green and can go from light to dark shades and is also thick and wrinkled.

Types of breadfruit trees   

There are 3 main varieties of this tree, which are:

Breadfruit: Artocarpus altilis 

This fruit has stood out in the Pacific since 3000 years ago due to the fact that it has become one of the main crops of the region. More precisely, it was in the South Pacific where this fruit originated and later expanded throughout the oceanic continent thanks to the people of the island who settled in places such as the islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

As a curious fact about this fruit we find that, whether baked or cooked in a pan, it has a texture similar to flour-based foods and a very distinctive smell of freshly baked bread.

Common names for the breadfruit tree  

There have been collected hundreds of names for this fruit in various parts of the world, according to the language spoken in each place. Some of them are:

  • Breadfruit tree, Pan, cow, pain Bois and panbwa in the Caribbean.
  • Beta in Vanuatu (country in the continent of Oceania)
  • Bulo, Bia, Nimbalu (Solomon Islands)
  • Fruit à pain and arbre à pain in French
  • Yovotévi and blèfoutou (in the country of Benin)
  • Brotfruchtbaum in German
  • Broodvrucht or broodboom in Dutch
  • Pao de massa and Fruta pão, in Portuguese
  • Kuru (Cook Islands)
  • Kapiak (Papua, New Guinea)
  • Lemai or lemae (Guam and Mariana Islands)
  • Mazapan (Guatemala and Honduras)
  • Mei o mai (Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Marquesas, Tonga and Tuvalu)
  • Meduu (Palau)
  • Rata del (Sri Lanka)
  • Mos (Kosrae)
  • Rimas (Philippines)
  • Sukun (Indonesia and Malaysia)
  • Shelisheli (Tanzania)
  • ‘Uru (Society Islands)
  • ‘Ulu (Hawaii, Samoa, Rotuma, Tuvalu)
  • Uto and buco (Fiji Islands)


Its scientific name is Artocarpus camansi white. This fruit is native to New Guinea and there is some possibility that it is also native to the Moluccan Islands in Indonesia.  

So far, this fruit is only harvested in the Philippines as a garden plant and is often considered to be the seeded variation of breadnuts. It is rare to find breadnut crops outside this region.

With the immigration of some Filipinos, this fruit has expanded its horizons in a few areas such as New Calcedonia, the Federated States of Micronesia such as Pohnpei, the Marquesas Islands, Palau, Hawaii, and Tahiti.

How is breadnut propagated? 

It is propagated in a peculiar way by birds and fruit bats that transport this food, and when doing so, its larger seeds fall to the ground and sometime later bear fruit, thus, these animals plant some crops unintentionally.  

However, there are also conventional ways of obtaining this fruit, for example, through home gardens.

Common names for breadnut  

Like the breadfruit, theDugdug or Chebiei: Artocarpus mariannensis Trécul breadnut is associated with a variety of terms:

  • Bread in English
  • Chataigne in Caribbean
  • Chestnut in Spanish
  • Chataignier in French
  • Kapiak in New Guinea
  • Kelur, kulor, kulur, kulur, kuror and timbul in Indonesia and Malaysia
  • Kos del in Sri Lanka
  • Mei kakano in the Marquesas Islands
  • Pepita bread in Puerto Rico
  • Dulugian, kamansi, kolo, pakau and ugod in Philippines

How to consume breadnut?  

Curiously, like its fruit, the seeds can be used as vegetables in soups once they are cooked; however, that is not the only use they have in the culinary world, they are also included in stews and salads.

Another way of consuming them is roasted and they are eaten just like chestnuts. In fact, its seeds are similar to nuts and its shape reflects the appearance of bread filled with nuts is why the fruit receives its name breadnut, and in Spanish “pan de nuez” (nut bread).  

Dugdug or Chebiei: Artocarpus mariannensis Trécul  

This fruit differs in its appearance because it changes its traditional rounded shape for a rather irregular one that can be compared to an old canteen.

in its inside, it also differs since it has only two seeds on average and they are too big and occupy a large part of the fruit, taking into account that the fruit usually measures between 12 and 30 centimeters; a seed could occupy 3 centimeters according to this measure.  

Another fact that distinguishes this crop among its varieties is that its trunk is much wider measuring 2 meters.

The dugdug comes from Palau and the Mariana Islands and grows in their stone forests found on the coasts or in the mountains.

Its production extends to places such as the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Nauru, Banaba Island, some places in Hawaii, and on Rabi Island in Fiji, (the fruit was introduced to this last place in 1940 from Banaba Island).

How is dugdug spread?

Like the breadnut, chebiei is also spread by fruit bats. And its spread has been affected by global warming, by some predators such as wild deer, and by the increasing absence of bats.  

The dugdug also shares with the breadnut its method of seeding which is by seed.

Common names for dugdug 

As with the 2 previous varieties, this also has a list of names by which it is recognized in different parts of the world, which are:

  • Dugdug and dokdok in the Mariana Islands.
  • Chebiei, Ebiei, meduuliou and mai in Palau.
  • Marianas breadfruit and seeded bredfruit in English
  • Maiyah in Puluwat and Yap (islands of the Federated States of Micronesia)
  • Mei kole in Pohnpei (Federated State of Micronesia)
  • Mei chocho in Chuuk (Federated State of Micronesia)
  • Mos in Kosrae  
  • Mejwaan in the Marshall Islands
  • Te mai in Kiribati

Properties and benefits of breadfruit

Nutritional profile of breadfruit  

We invite you to see the nutritional table of breadfruit per 100 grams.  

ComponentsRaw fruitCocked/roasted  fruitBoiled fruitFermented fruitFruit in pills
Water (%) 63,8-74,359-70,367,5-73,667,3-71,220,8
Proteins (g) 3,80,8-2,20,95-1,20,76,3
Carbohydrates (g) 77,325,7-37,624,5-30,327,967,7
Fats (g) 0,710,11-0,390,241,132,2
Calcium (g) 2418-26,312,1-21,142134
Potassium (mg) 35220-399
Phosphorus (mg) 9042,7-91,727.3-37,9164
Iron (mg)  0,960,68-1,560,27-0,490,73-1,180,83
Sodium (mg) 7,12,4-5,3
Vitamin B1 (mg) 0,07-0,120,07-0,090,080,14
Vitamin B2 (mg) 0,20,06-0,10,05-0,070,12
Vitamin C3 (mg) 2,41,13-1,540,62-0,747,42
Vitamin C (mg) 22,71-2,62,9-3,24-20

Properties of breadfruit  


Breadfruit contains approx. 29 mg of vitamin C which represents 48% of the amount that should be consumed daily. So by eating this fruit, you’ll get almost half of the job done, and even better, if you include it in your daily diet together with other foods such as lemon you could bring this percentage to 100%, thus your body will be fully protected against diseases.

It provides energy to the body  

This fruit contains a significant amount of vitamin B3, also called niacin, responsible for the conversion of food into energy for the body.  

In the same way cells of every tissue of our body are fed with this energy and would not be able to function without it. If it would not work, we could suffer from a myriad of diseases, which is why this fruit with a high content of vitamin B3 is very good for us.

It works as a laxative

As a good source of fiber, it can be of great help for intestinal problems such as constipation or colon diseases such as cancer as it eliminates the chemicals that cause it.

On the other hand, this fiber is also useful to reduce cholesterolrelated problems because it prevents the intestine from absorbing it, thus it can combat health problems such as obesity.

It treats dehydration   

Breadfruit is mostly water since it is 63% water, therefore, it can be a good alternative to hydrate people who have recently had diarrhea, high fever, colds, diabetes, or who are dehydrated due to the consumption of any medication.  

If you think about it, when you consume this fruit, you have food and drink in one food! which makes it a very practical option.

It stimulates metabolism  

This fruit has a significant amount of potassium. A high percentage of this nutrient could help people with slow metabolic processes, as it boosts the absorption of minerals and the elimination of harmful substances. For this reason, we recommend the consumption of this fruit to have proper metabolic functioning.

History and origin of breadfruit  

Breadfruit comes from regions such as the islands of the Pacific Ocean and Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia in the Moluccas, and in other countries such as the Philippines and New Guinea.  

Its tree is present since prehistoric times in the fields of the Polynesian islands. In this group of islands and in Melanesia, the species known today originates from the breadnut. On the other hand, in the islands of Micronesia, the fruit is a hybrid resulting from the mixture of the bread nut and the Mariana breadfruit.  

The cultivation of breadfruit began to be introduced in the western Pacific and spread throughout the rest of the region due to the conquest of the English and the migration of people approximately 3,000 years ago. It was thanks to these migrations, by which the fruit was transported, that these islands began to be populated.  

The only oceanic places where these species are not found are New Zealand and the Easter Islands in Valparaiso, Chile, because their temperatures are too low for the requirements of this crop.  

Regarding the seedless species, these arrived in Jamaica and St. Vincent from Tahiti and to Martinique and French Guyana through the islands of Mauritius from Tonga, due to the movements in the South Sea of the Europeans in the XVII century.

Later, varieties harvested in these places spread to the Caribbean region, tropical areas of South America, Central America, Madagascar, Africa, Seychelles, the Maldives, northern Australia, Sri Lanka, and southern Florida.  

Breadfruit industry

Know the main producers and consumers of breadfruit in the world.

Countries producing breadfruit  


San Andres islands stand out for the cultivation of this fruit, not only at a Caribbean regional level but also in the whole world.  

This fruit was brought from the Polynesian islands to San Andres thanks to Vice Admiral William Bligh and the British Royal Navy who sailed in the ship Bounty.

The breadfruit played a truly significant role in this region as it saved slaves from starvation at the time of the British conquest, being the only thing they ate for months, which is why many called it God’s bread.

Even today, this fruit (and its various uses that we’ll see later) continues to boost the fragile economic situation of this island thanks to its economic price and the many portions that can be obtained from it.  

There are 2,992 breadfruit trees on the Sanandresana island, a figure taken in 2019 by Domingo Sánchez McNaab who serves in the island’s Secretariat of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Many times, the sanandresanos remove the peel with a knife to make items from this fruit, such as:

  • Cakes
  • Patacones 
  • Maicenas 
  • Condiments
  • Rondón, also known as Run down, is a type of soup with meat, yucca, sweet potato, and other ingredients.

Breadfruit consuming countries

According to EcuRed, to date, the places with the highest demand from high-end restaurants and the largest importers of breadfruit are:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Europe
  • Puerto Rico (the demand is due to the products that can be made with the fruit, such as frozen patacones, chips, and flour).  

How is breadfruit cultivated?  

There are a series of requirements that must be taken into account in order to grow breadfruit, and you’ll learn about them below.


It must be sandy in texture, fertile and deep, but without excess water accumulation because this will prevent the fruits and leaves from growing, and if they were to grow, they would die because the crop would drown.


It can withstand temperatures ranging from 15°C to 40°C (59°F to 104°F), the most suitable being between 21°C (70°F and 90°F) and 32°C (70°F and 90°F).

How is breadfruit sown?  

  • To harvest the breadfruit tree, it’s necessary to take root parts from other trees that measure between 25 and 30 cm, be woody, not too shallow in the soil, and are obviously in good condition.  

To take the roots, the trees must have had a previous fruiting process.

The most advisable way to plant a new crop is that once you find the ideal plant, you must look for the end of its root to connect it with the root of the new plant because the mature roots have a good amount of carbohydrates that give energy to the plants, so you practically start the crop from the old plants.

Cultivation should be started ideally during the rainy season, but if grown in a dry climate, it must be watered deeply for the first 3 months for the roots to expand and strengthen.

This process is known as regeneration.

  • To plant this tree, dig a hole twice as deep as an average container to put fertilizer at the bottom of the hole and then cover it with soil.
  • To this soil, the organic matter must be added to protect it from humidity and weeds, and frequently watered in the following days.
  • Applying herbicides near the base of the tree can affect the roots or the base itself and must be avoided.
  • Fortunately, this tree doesn’t often have diseases or parasites, but if this is the case, the best thing to do is to call a plant health corporation to handle the case.

It’s important not to overwater the plant to avoid encouraging the growth of fungi that can kill it.

  • It is not recommended to plant the breadfruit tree in places where there are cattle or other animals because they can eat parts of the wood or the fruits that have just grown.
  • The maturation process of trees planted from seed is quite slow, with an average waiting time of 6 to 10 years for them to produce their first flowers or fruits, while those planted from stems grow faster, in approximately 3 to 6 years at the most.

A single tree can bear between 150 and 200 fruits annually. 

Harvesting breadfruit from trees

On average, 3 to 4 months after flowering the tree will bear fruit, and these will ripen in about 15 to 19 weeks, ready to be eaten.  

They are to be harvested when ripe ( noticeable as a few drops of latex sprout from the fruit), but not as much as when the fruit is too soft and about to get spoiled.

It is best, because of the height of the tree, to harvest using a forked stick and a curved knife and to avoid dropping the fruit directly to the ground so that it does not get bruised.

Breadfruit post-harvest  

The minimum requirements for the selection of this fruit are to be complete, in good condition with no mechanical, physical, phytopathological or physiological damage, free of dirt, and with its characteristic dark green color, flavor and fresh appearance. This classification also takes into account the size and weight of the fruit.  

In case it is not clean, it is washed with potable water and disinfected, and then dried by leaving it in the open air or under artificial ventilation.  

Uses and products made from breadfruit  

This fruit is often consumed in the company of other foods to create some typical dishes of the regions where it is found. Today we’ll see everything that can be done from this fruit, whether in products or the uses of its leaves.

Breadfruit flour     

The flour made from this fruit is beneficial because it can be a good alternative to replace the wheat bread that we traditionally have at home and which is full of harmful substances that can cause allergies such as gluten.  

So we can use the flour from the breadfruit because not only does it not have gluten, but it does contain nutrients and protein so, in this case, we would be making a positive contribution to our health.

How is breadfruit flour made? It’s only a matter of peeling the tree seeds, cooking them and grinding them. They can then be used for preparations.

Breadfruit Arepas     

With breadfruit flour, we not only can create bread but also replace the ingredients of most of the products that are made with traditional flour.  

We refer at this occasion to arepas, which is a very common food in countries such as Colombia and Venezuela. These are made by mixing flour with water or milk, sugar and some salt and then kneading to shape them into their characteristic flattened circle. They can have cheese filling depending on the taste of each person.

Breadfruit cookies  

In Colombia, small enterprises are starting to produce breadfruit-based products such as cookies.  

The goal is to market them, especially to school children (since it can be a good option for their snacks) and to promote their trade abroad in countries such as Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bolivia since they do not have the fruit to manufacture this food.

Breadfruit tree candy  

These candies have a texture similar to arequipe or dulce de leche in the Caribbean regions. Its consistency is more natural and it has a real percentage of health benefits in order to reduce the consumption of traditional sweets with high sugar content or junk food in general.

It is also expected to make this product affordable to people because many times healthy desserts that are on the market are much more expensive than usual.

Breadfruit leaf   

This leaf is not so much used in the culinary field, but rather for medical purposes due to its many properties as a possibility to create home remedies to combat various ailments such as:

  • Hypertension
  • Asthma
  • Ear pain
  • Skin infections
  • Diabetes
Breadfruit leaves


You may realize that breadfruit belongs to a unique species, so you can consider yourself privileged if you have ever tasted one or if it grows in your region. Moreover, it’s very intriguing how it can be used for meals, for creating products, and all that it can bring to your body, so don’t hesitate to try it if you have the chance!