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Bread Fruit

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a long-lived, tropical tree grown primarily for its starchy fruit.

Breadfruit was domesticated from A. camansi (breadnut) in New Guinea and nearby islands and has been cultivated in the Pacific Islands for nearly 3000 years. A few seedless Polynesian cultivars were distributed to the Caribbean, along with breadnut, in the late 1700s and are now widely distributed in the tropics.

Breadfruit is outcrossing but produces seedless fruit parthenocarpically if there is no fertilization. In most regions of the world breadfruit varieties are seedless triploid forms (2n=84). In some parts of the Pacific, diploid (2n=56) varieties are also found, some of which produce fertile seeds while others are less fertile. Low fertility in diploids is probably the result of continuous vegetative propagation which allowed somatic mutations to accumulate.

The crop is maintained ex situ as trees in field genebanks because even when seeds are produced they do not reproduce true to type. Trees can live 80 years or more.

 

Major breadfruit collections

The USDA holds the largest collection, in Hawai’i. The Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees maintains a smaller collection in Fiji.

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