" There is again another wonderful tree" wrote the pioneer traveler John de Marignolli in 1350, "called Chake-Baruke, as big as an oak. Its fruit is produced from the trunk, and not from the branches, and is something marvelous to see, being as big as a great lamb, or a child of three years old. It has a hard rind like that of our pine-cones, so that you have to cut it open with a hatchet; inside it has a pulp of surpassing flavor, with the sweetness of honey, and of the best Italian melon; and this also contains some 500 chestnuts of like flavor, which are capital eating when roasted."
Like other early travelers, Marignolli was inclined to exaggerate the merits of the new fruits with which he made acquaintance. The jackfruit is not generally considered first-class by Europeans. When preserved or dried it is better, but in tropical America the fruit is commonly not eaten except by the poorer classes. In the Orient, where it has been cultivated since ancient times, it seems to be held in greater esteem; H. F. Macmillan says that it "forms a very important article of food with the natives of the Eastern tropics." Both Theophrastus and Pliny, early writers who mentioned the jackfruit, give the same impression; Pliny describes it as the fruit "whereof the Indian Sages and Philosophers do ordinarily live."
The jackfruit is less exacting in its cultural requirements than its congener the breadfruit, and since it resists cool weather much better it is adapted to cultivation over a wider area.
The tree is large, stately, and handsome; under favorable conditions it may reach a height of 60 to 70 feet. The leaves are oblong, oval, or elliptic in form, 4 to 6 inches in length, leathery, glossy, and deep green in color. The flowers resemble in general those of the breadfruit, except that the pistillate or female blossoms are commonly produced directly on the bark of the trunk and larger limbs. The fruit is one of the largest in the world; some writers affirm that specimens have been known to weigh 80 pounds, although half this is a safer estimate. They vary from oval to oblong, and are sometimes 2 feet in length. The surface is studded with short hard points, and is pale green in the immature fruit, becoming greenish yellow and then brownish as ripening progresses. The fruit is divided inside into many small cavities each containing a seed surrounded by soft brownish pulp of pungent odor and aromatic flavor somewhat suggesting the banana. Thomas Firminger speaks rather discouragingly of this fruit. He says: "By those who can manage to eat it, it is considered most delicious, possessing the rich spicy flavor and scent of the melon, but to such a powerful degree as to be quite unbearable to persons of weak stomach, or to those unaccustomed to it."
The tree grows wild in the mountains of India and is ordinarily considered indigenous to that country. Alphonse DeCandolle believed that its cultivation probably did not antedate the Christian era. At the present day it is common in many parts of India, particularly in lower Bengal, and Macmillan observes that it has become semi-naturalized in Ceylon. In the Malayan region it is a common fruit-tree. The worthy Father Tavares states that it was introduced into Brazil by the Portuguese about the middle of the seventeenth century. It is now abundant in many parts of that country, particularly about Bahia. William Harris 1 gives the following account of its introduction into Jamaica:
"It was amongst the plants found on board the French ship bound from the Isle of Bourbon to Santo Domingo, which was captured by Captain Marshall of H. M. S. Flora, one of Lord Rodney's squadron, in June, 1782, and was sent to Mr. Hinton East's garden in Gordon Town. It was again introduced in the early part of 1793 when Captain Bligh of H. M. S. Providence brought it with other plants from the island of Timor in the Malay Archipelago. The tree is common all over the island, and is naturalized in the Cockpit country."
In Hawaii it is not abundant. It has never been a success m California, the climate having proved too cold for it. In southern Florida, however, there are several fruiting trees, but on the shallow soils of that region they do not grow to large size, and the fruits which have been produced were not of good quality. The species is probably too strictly tropical in its requirements to be entirely successful in any part of this country.
1 Bull. Botanical Dept., 3, 1910.
Concerning the origin of the name jackfruit, which is known to be an English adaptation of the Portuguese jaca, Yule and Burnell say: "Rheede rightly gives tsjaka (chakka) as the Malayalam name, and from this no doubt the Portuguese took jaca and handed it on to us." Kanthal, kathal, panasa, and kantaka are some of the vernacular names used in India. The French call it jacque. The orthography of the common English name might better be jakfruit, and indeed this spelling is employed by some writers, but the commoner form jackfruit will probably be hard to displace. Artocarpus integra, L., is a botanical synonym.
The fruit is eaten fresh, or it may be preserved in sirup, or dried like the fig. Thomas Firminger writes: "If the edible pulp of the fruit be taken out and boiled in some fresh milk, and then be strained off, the milk will, on becoming cold, form a thick jelly-like substance of the consistency of blanc-mange, of a fine orange color, and of melon-like flavor. Treated in this way the fruit affords a very agreeable dish for the table." Father Tavares has this warning: "It must be eaten when full ripe, and not at meal times; a cup of cool water should be taken immediately afterwards, never wine or other fermented drink, since these, when combined with the jaca, are poisonous." He adds that the seeds, boiled or roasted, are very pleasant and that they are used, pulverized, in making biscuits. The ripe fruits are often fed to cattle in Brazil. Alice R. Thompson of Hawaii has found the edible portion or pulp to contain: Total solids 23.20 per cent, ash 0.93, acids 0.27, protein 1.44, total sugars 15.15, fat 0.45, and fiber 1.3. The seed was found to contain: Total solids 50.82 per cent, ash 3.49, acids 0.16, protein 5.44, total sugars 1.87, fat 0.24, fiber 1.80, and hydroly-zable carbohydrates other than sucrose 23.53. Thus it will be seen that the pulp is rather high in protein and fiber and low in acids. The seeds have a high starch-content and very little sugar, while the protein-content is about 5 per cent.
The climatic requirements of the jackfruit consist in abundant precipitation and freedom from severe frosts. Probably it can be grown by the aid of irrigation in regions where there is little rainfall. Mature trees have passed through temperatures of about 27° above zero in southern Florida, but they were frozen to the large limbs. Though temperatures below freezing kill young trees and injure old ones, the jackfruit is not, like its congener the breadfruit, injured by cool weather several degrees above freezing. It prefers a rich, deep, and moist soil, but can be grown successfully on shallow and light soils such as some of those of southern Florida. In Brazil it grows well on clay and on sandy loam. Very little attention is given to cultural methods in the regions where the jackfruit is commonly grown. Like the breadfruit, it succeeds without much care from man, the sole necessity being abundant moisture.
Propagation is by seeds, which should be planted soon after their removal from the fruit. The method of propagation by means of root-cuttings or suckers, which is practiced with the seedless breadfruit, is said not to be successful with this species.
According to Paul Hubert, young trees come into bearing when five years of age. It is doubtful, however, whether they can be depended on to fruit so early. Thomas Firminger writes: "The jackfruit is not borne, like most other fruits are, from the ends of branches, but upon stout footstalks projecting from the main trunk and thickest branches of the tree. In no other way, indeed, could its ponderous weight be sustained. The situation of the fruit, moreover, is said to vary with the age of the tree; being first borne on the branches, then on the trunk, and in old trees on the roots. Those borne on the roots, which discover themselves by the cracking of the earth above them, are held in the highest estimation." When grown in a cool climate the fruits are of inferior quality. The ripening season extends over several months.
Paul Hubert states that Batocera rubra L. attacks the tree in some regions. This insect', which is a cerambycid beetle, causes much damage to fig trees in India by boring in their trunks, and probably works on the jackfruit in the same manner. The larva of a moth, Perina nuda F., is said by H. Maxwell-Lefroy to feed on the jackfruit throughout India.
"Of this tree," says the excellent Rheede, "they reckon more than thirty varieties, distinguished by the quality of their fruits, but all may be reduced to two kinds; the fruit of one kind is distinguished by plump and succulent pulp of excellent flavor, being the Varaka; that of the other, filled with softer and more flabby pulp of inferior flavor, being the Tsjakapa." This classification is borne out by more modern writers. Thomas Firminger speaks of the hard and soft kinds, and the same two forms are known in Brazil. H. F. Macmillan gives the following resume of the subject:
"Jak-fruit occurs in several varieties, the two most distinct in Ceylon being: (1) 'Waraka,' distinguished by a firm fruit, which the natives recognize by the sound when flicked with the fingers ; (2) 'Vela,' characterized by its softer rind, through which the finger may be thrust when approaching ripeness, the pulp being less sweet than that of the former variety. Of these there are several subvarieties, as 'Kuru-waraka' (with small and almost round fruit), and 'Peni-waraka' ('honey jak'), which has a sweetish pulp. A variety called 'Johore jak,' with hairy leaves and a small oblong fruit with a most overpowering odor, is greatly esteemed by those who eat the fruit."
Since these "varieties" are propagated by seed, they should properly be termed races. Of true horticultural varieties propagated vegetatively, there are none.