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Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis)


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Common names 

Breadfruit, breadnut [English]; arbre à pain [French]; árbol del pan, fruta de pan [Spanish]; fruta pão [Portuguese]; kuru [Cook Islands]; broodboom [Dutch]; mei [Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshalls, Marquesas, Tonga, Tuvalu]; uto, kulu,buco [Fiji]; Brotfruchtbaum [German]; Αρτόκαρπος [Greek]; ‘ulu [Hawai‘i, Samoa, Rotuma, Tuvalu]; sukun [Indonesian]; albero del pane [Italian]; mos [Kosrae]; kulur, kuro [Malaysia]; meduu [Palau]; kapiak [Papua New Guinea]; rimas [Philippines]; ‘uru [Society Islands]; bia, bulo, nimbalu [Solomon Islands]; Ekmek ağacı [Turkish]; xa kê [Vietnamese]; beta [Vanuatu]; فاكهة الخبز [Arabic]; 麵包樹 [Chinese]; עץ הלחם [Hebrew]; パンノキ [Japanese]; 빵나무 [Korean]; ശീമപ്ലാവ് [Malayalam]; Хлебное дерево [Russian]; ஈரப் பலா [Tamil]; สาเก [Thai]


Artocarpus communis J. R. Forst. & G. Forst., Artocarpus incisus L. f., Radermachia incisa Thunb., Sitodium altile Parkinson

Taxonomic information 

Artocarpus altilis generally refers to the seedless trees typical of Polynesia but it may also refer to Artocarpus camansi Blanco, a seeded species naturally found in New Guinea and the Moluccas, sometimes called breadnut (Ragone, 1997). Breadnut and breadfruit are considered different species by GRIN (USDA, 2015) and breadnut is considered a progenitor of breadfruit (Ragone, 2011).


Breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg) is an evergreen multipurpose and traditional agroforestry species. Its starchy fruits are a staple food in the Pacific Islands. The name breadfruit is due to the flavour of the fruit after being cooked which reminds of freshly cooked bread (Ragone, 2011).

Morphological description

Breadfruit is an evergreen tree that reaches 15-20 m in height. The trunk ranges between 60 and 120 cm in diameter and produces branches over 4 m high. The bark is smooth. The crown is conical in shape in the first years of growth and becomes more rounded with maturity. The leaves are alternate, dark green and smooth on their upper side, lighter green and with reddish hairy veins on the lower one. They are very variable in shape, ranging from obovate to ovate entire lobs to very pinnately dissected lobs. They are about 45 cm long but can range from 15 to 90 cm depending on variety. Artocarpus altilis is monoecious and bear male and female flowers on the same tree. Male flowers are borne on club-shaped spikes that can be as long as 45 cm. Female inflorescences are globose clusters of about 1500-2000 reduced flowers. Once pollinated, the flowers develop into a spherical to cylindrical, honeycombed smooth to rough-skinned fruit of 10 to 30 cm in diameter and 0.25 to 6 kg in weight. It has a yellow to green rind and a starchy creamy white to yellow pulp (starch content ~20%). Fruits may contain seeds or not, depending on the variety (Ragone, 2011; Ragone, 1997).


Artocarpus altilis is a multipurpose tree mainly grown for its fruits. The fruit is nutritious and a valuable staple food in most Pacific Islands. The mature fruits are eaten raw or cooked, steamed, fried, made into flour and baked, roasted or freeze-dried, or traditionnally fermented. Breadfruit can be eaten at all stages of growth (Sikarwar et al., 2014; Ragone, 1997). It is canned and sold in the Caribbean and in the USA, Europe and Canada (Ragone, 2011). Young immature fruits can be boiled and are comparable in flavour to artichoke hearts. Breadfruit seeds of breadfruits are edible. Sometimes referred to as breadnuts, they are eaten boiled or roasted (Duke et al., 1993). Breadfruit trees provide valuable fuelwood and timber that has low density, flexibility and is resistant to termites (Ragone, 2011). The fibrous parts are used to make traditional clothes, ropes and fishnets. The latex is used as a chewing gum and adhesive and for the caulking of canoes. The burning of dried male flowers repels mosquitoes and other flying insects. The breadfruit tree is an ornamental tree in Hawaii. It also provides shade, mulch and can be interplanted with other tropical crops (Ragone, 2011). Breadfruit has many ethnomedicinal uses (Duke et al., 1993).

The parts of the fruits that are discarded can be used to feed animals as a source of energy (due to the presence of carbohydrates) and protein (Ragone, 2011). Leaves are valuable fodder for cattle (Duke et al., 1993).


Breadnut (Artocarpus camansi), the seeded ancestral form of Artocarpus altilis, originated from New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines. Artocarpus altilis was domesticated 3000 years ago in the western Pacific. It is now widespread and cultivated in most Pacific Islands (except in New Zealand and Easter Island). It was introduced into the Caribbean during late 1700s by French and English slaveowners who were seeking cheap food for slaves. Breadfruit is also cultivated in Central and South America, Africa, Madagascar, the Maldives, the Seychelles, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, South-East Asia, and Australia (Ragone, 2011).

Artocarpus altilis can grow between 17°N and 17° S and it can grow on higher latitudes under maritime climates. It grows better from sea level up to an altitude of 1550 m and where annual rainfall ranges from 1500 to 3000 mm with summer rains. Artocarpus altilis grows better in place where temperatures range from 15°C to 40°C with optimal growth between 21 and 32°C. It has no tolerance of frost but it can withstand some dry season. However, dry spells will compromise fruit harvest. Artocarpus altilis does well on light or medium, fertile and well-drained soils with pH ranging from neutral to alkaline. Breadfruit has some tolerance to salinity and can grow on coralline soils and atolls (Ragone, 2011).



Fresh breadfruit matures in 1-3 days after harvest and is highly perishable. Shelf life can be extended by careful harvesting and pre-cooling fruit with chipped ice. Long term storage for shipment requires low temperatures (12-15°C) which is difficult to achieve under tropical conditions, where transportation to urban market centres may result in produce losses above 70% (Ragone, 2011; Oladunjoye et al., 2012). Use of fresh breadfruit for animal feeding is possible only in the vicinity of producing areas, otherwise the product must be dehydrated.


Processing by cooking and soaking reduced the concentration of oxalate and tannins while trypsin inhibitors and haemagglutinin were completely eliminated by cooking. Phytic acid was reduced by soaking but not by cooking (Oladunjoye et al., 2012). In another study, cooking for 20 min reduced tannins, phytate and α-amylase inhibitor activity (Oulaï et al., 2014).

Forage management 

Artocarpus altilis is a fast growing tree. Once established, the tree is long-lived and remains productive for decades. Seedless varieties are vegetatively propagated from roots or cuttings and they start bearing fruits only 3-6 years after planting. During their early stages of development, the tree requires watering during the dry season. Older trees are tolerant on dry spells. There may be one or two harvests a year. Main harvest occurs during the hot wet season and second harvest 3-4 months later. Average fruit yield is 5.5 t/ha under traditional agroforestry system on Pohnpei (Micronesia) and ranges as high as 16 to 50 t/ha under orchard conditions (Ragone, 2011).

Artocarpus altilis can be intercropped with yam (Dioscorea spp.), taro (Colocasia esculenta), cassava, banana, citrus, noni (Morinda citrifolia), papaya (Carica papaya), coffee and cocoa or legume cover crop as it is tolerant of shade in its early stages of growth and then provides shade to its companion species (Ragone, 2011).

Environmental impact 

Soil enhancement and nurse species

Artocarpus altilis has spreading surface roots that stabilize the soil on the steep hillsides in Micronesia. Its dense canopy provides shade and reduces temperature. The trunks can be used as trellises for vines and the regular dropping of their leaves provide mulch to the soil thus improving growing conditions of intercropped species (Ragone, 2011).


Breadfruit trees host and feed many birds and bats. The pollen and the latex are collected by honeybees (Ragone, 2011).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Fresh breadfruit is rich in water (65-72%). The flesh of the fruit is rich in starch (63-74% DM) and low in fibre (crude fibre < 8% DM) and protein (< 6% DM). It is palatable and a good source of energy for all classes of livestock (Göhl, 1982).

Potential constraints 

Breadfruit contains several antinutritional factors: oxalate, tannins, phytic acids, trypsin inhibitors, α-amylase inhibitor, haemagglutinin and saponins. These substances result in lower performance in pigs and poultry fed large amounts of breadfruit, and it is recommended to process breadfruit by before using it as feed (Oladunjoye et al., 2012; Ortiz et al., 2011; Oulaï et al., 2014). The reported value for antitrypsic activity (> 20 TIU/mg; Oladunjoye et al., 2012) is of the same order of magnitude as that of raw soybean seeds.


In humid tropical countries, breadfruit is a source of carbohydrates (starch) used as an energy supplement for small ruminants. Breadfruit must be supplemented with a protein source due to its low protein content.


In Cuba, sheep managed on tropical pasture and supplemented or not with 12 or 20 g/kg body weight of a mixture of breadfruits and leaves of breadfruit tree had higher daily weight gain (113 g/d) with the highest level of breadfruit supplement than the lower level (97g/d) or no supplement (67g/d). Breadfruit supplementation did not modify carcass characteristics or meat quality. Adding breadfruit leaves increased the protein content of the supplement (Leyva et al., 2007).


In Samoa, whole breadfruit flour included at 43% into a complete diet fed to young growing goats resulted in daily weight gain of 69 g/d (Aregheore, 2005). Flour of peeled breadfruit included at 57% into the concentrate diet of growing goats led to better weight gain and digestible energy than cassava (Aregheore, 2000b). The flours of whole breadfruit, peels or pulp offered as a supplement to growing goats fed with forage had no adverse effect on animal performance. Breadfruit pulp flour gave the best results in terms of daily weight gain (175 g/d) compared with whole breadfruit (82 g/d) and breadfruit peels (114 g/d) although DM digestibility was higher with breadfruit peels. Breadfruit pulp gave the best feed conversion ratio (feed/gain) with 4.8 compared to 8.8 and 7.4 for whole breadfruit and breadfruit peels respectively (Martin et al., 2003).In Nigeria, increasing levels of breadfruit (5 to 49.5%) with Guinea grass hay does not change total DM intake but increases DM digestibility from 62 to 73% (Bosman et al., 1996). 


Over-ripe fruits of breadfruit are given to pigs in Micronesia (Merlin, 2016). Breadfruit meal could be used to replace maize grain in growing and fattenig pigs diets in Cuba (Brea et al., 2013; Ortiz et al., 2011). In growing pigs, it was found that up to 15% (dietary DM) breadfruit meal could be fed to animals without compromising feed intake or animal performance (liveweight gain, feed intake, feed conversion ratio, quality of meat) (Brea et al., 2013). In fattening pigs, inclusion levels higher than 10% resulted in decreased animal performance, which was attributed to the presence of tannins and saponins. However 20% and 30% breadfruit meal in fattening pigs diet significantly reduced feed costs (Ortiz et al., 2011).


Breadfruit meal

Several studies showed that breadfruit meal could be used at moderate levels (10%) in broiler diets without adverse effects on growth performance and feed efficiency (Adekunle et al., 2006; Ravindran et al., 1995). At higher inclusion levels, some authors observed a degradation of growth performance with raw breadfruit meal (Adekunle et al., 2006) while other obtained good results at 20% breadfruit meal and above (Valdivié et al., 2003; Ravindran et al., 1995). Cooking breadfruit improved performance at high inclusion levels (Adekunle et al., 2006). This beneficial effect could be due to the destruction of some antinutritional factors (Oladunjoye et al., 2010). It is concluded that breadfruit meal can be used in poultry diets at levels of 10%. Higher levels could be tested, with care on feed formulation and meal preparation.

Breadfruit seed meal

Breadfruit seed meal reduced growth performance and feed conversion of broiler starters when included at levels of 3.5% and the negative effect was very strong above 10% (Nwokoro et al., 2006a). Feed intake was less affected at moderate levels of breadfruit seed meal, but decreased at levels above 10%. Similarly in broiler finishers, growth performance decreased linearly with increasing levels of breadfruit seed meal, and feed efficiency decreased (Nwokoro et al., 2006b). It is therefore not advisable to use breadfruit seed meal in poultry feeds.


For rabbits, sun-dried Artocarpus altilis fruit is a potential source of energy. Though the protein content is low, protein digestibility is relatively high: 72 % (Leyva al., 2012). As In Nigeria, breadfruit meal could be introduced up to 10-20% in substitution for maize grain in a complete diet without significant alteration of growth performance (Oladele Oso et al., 2010). When introduced at 25% of a balanced diet, the nutritive value of breadfruit meal fed to growing rabbits was higher when the fruits were cooked (30 min at 100°C) before sun-drying and even higher when they were fermented 5 days in water (Oladunjoye et al., 2012). In Cuba, a 90-day study with growing rabbits showed that the average daily gain of rabbits was reduced by only 4% when they received only breadfruit meal + forage of perennial soybean (Neonotonia wightii) containing 19% crude protein in the DM. In a third group of rabbits, growth rate was reduced by only 11% when they received a pelleted diet composed of breadfruit meal (40%) + breadfruit tree leaves (58%) + minerals and vitamins (2%). In this study the relatively high content of breadfruit tree leaves (19% DM) compensated the low protein content of the fruit. The DM and crude protein digestibility of this "all breadfruit" diet are high: 82% and 72% respectively (Leyva et al., 2012).

The calcium and phosphorus content of breadfruit are generally low and cover respectively only 8-10% and 30% of the requirements of growing rabbits (Lebas, 2013).

Nutritional tables

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 89.4 3.5 84.9 94.3 7  
Crude protein % DM 4.7 0.8 3.2 5.8 8  
Crude fibre % DM 6.0 1.2 5.0 7.9 5  
NDF % DM 19.5 8.5 11.7 27.8 4  
ADF % DM 12.0 4.6 8.1 17.7 4  
Lignin % DM 2.6       1  
Ether extract % DM 2.7 1.5 0.9 5.0 5  
Ash % DM 5.5 3.1 3.1 11.6 7  
Starch (polarimetry) % DM 66.1   63.0 69.2 2  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.4 1.1 13.6 17.4 4 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 0.9 0.3 0.6 1.2 3  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.4 0.3 1.0 1.6 5  
Iron mg/kg DM 74       1  
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 80.6         *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 14.0         *
NE growing pig MJ/kg DM 10.9         *
Poultry nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
AMEn cockerel MJ/kg DM 13.0       1  
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 61.9         *
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 10.8       1  
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 71.5       1  
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 10.6         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Aregheore, 2005; Bosman et al., 1996; Brea et al., 2013; Devendra et al., 1970; Leyva et al., 2012; Oladunjoye et al., 2010; Oladunjoye et al., 2012; Valdivié et al., 2003

Last updated on 16/09/2016 19:21:59

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 31.1 2.6 27.5 35.2 6  
Crude protein % DM 4.8 0.7 3.9 5.7 6  
Crude fibre % DM 5.3 1.8 3.3 7.9 5  
NDF % DM 9.7   8.1 11.3 2  
ADF % DM 5.9   5.6 6.2 2  
Lignin % DM 0.2   0.1 0.3 2  
Ether extract % DM 1.2 0.5 0.7 2.0 5  
Ash % DM 5.4 3.4 3.1 11.7 6  
Starch (polarimetry) % DM 68.4   62.9 74.0 2  
Total sugars % DM 2.4       1  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.1         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 0.8 0.4 0.3 1.2 4  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.3 0.2 1.1 1.5 4  
Potassium g/kg DM 10.7       1  
Magnesium g/kg DM 0.9       1  
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 81.8         *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 14.0         *
MEn growing pig MJ/kg DM 13.6         *
NE growing pig MJ/kg DM 10.8         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


CIRAD, 1991; Devendra et al., 1970; Gonzalez-Garcia et al., 2009; URZ, 2009; Valdivié et al., 2003

Last updated on 16/09/2016 19:25:18

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Hassoun P., Bastianelli D., Lebas F., 2016. Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/523 Last updated on September 30, 2016, 22:08