Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam., Encycl. 3 (1789)

Latin for 'with differing leaves'.

Artocarpus brasiliensis Ortega
Artocarpus integrifolia var. glabra Stokes
Articarpus integrifolia var. heterophylla (Lam.) Pers.
Artocarpus maximus Blanco
Artocarpus nanca Noronha [Invalid]
Artocarpus philippensis Lam.
Polyphema jaca Lour.
Saccus arboreus major Rumph.
Sitodium cauliflorum Gaertn.
Tsjaka-maram Rheede

Tree with abundant white sap. Stipules large, surrounding the twigs, leaving circular scar when dropped. Leaves alternate, simple. Fruit placed on large branches and stem, very large, 30-100 cm long, knobly, barrel-shaped syncarp, yellowish, with seeds in yellow flesh.

Medium-sized, evergreen, monoecious tree up to 20(-30) m tall and 80(-200) cm in diameter; all living parts exude viscid, white latex when injured. Bark rough to somewhat scaly, dark grey to greyish- brown. Crown dense, conical in young and shaded trees, becoming rounded or spreading in the older tree. New shoots, twigs and leaves usually glabrous but occasionally short-haired and scabrid. Stipules ovate-acute, 1.5-8 cm x 0.5-3 cm, deciduous and leaving annular scars on the twigs. Leaves thin leathery, obovate-elliptic to elliptic, 5-25 cm x 3.5-12 cm, broadest at or above the middle, base cuneate, margin entire or in young plants often with 1-2 pairs of lobes, apex rounded or blunt with short, pointed tip; dark green and shiny above, dull pale green underneath; petiole 1.5-4 cm long, shallowly grooved on the adaxial side, sparsely hairy. Inflorescences solitary, borne axillary on special lateral, short leafy shoots arising from older branches and main trunk; male flower heads barrel-shaped or ellipsoid, 3-8 cm long and 1-3 cm across, composed of sterile and fertile flowers closely embedded on a central core (receptacle), dark green, stalk 1.5-3.5 cm long and 0.5-1 cm thick, bearing annular ring near the distal end; sterile male flowers with solid perianth; fertile male flowers with tubular, bilobed, 1-1.5 mm long perianth, stamen 1-2 mm long; female heads borne singly or in pairs distal to the position of male heads, cylindrical or oblong, dark green, 5-15 cm long, 3-4.5 cm across, with a distinct annulus at the top end of the stout stalk, subtended by a spathaceous, deciduous bract, 5-8 cm long; female flowers with tubular perianths which are fused at both ends and projecting as 3-7-angled, blunt or pointed, minute pyramidal protuberances topped by spathulate or ligulate styles and stigmas. Fruit (syncarp) barrel- or pear-shaped, 30-100 cm x 25-50 cm, with short pyramidal protuberances or warts; stalk 5-10 cm long, 1-1.5 cm thick; rind ca. 1 cm thick, together with the central core (receptacle) inseparable from the waxy, firm or soft, golden yellow, fleshy perianths surrounding the seeds. Seeds numerous, oblong-ellipsoid, 2-4 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, enclosed by horny endocarps and subgelatinous exocarps; testa thin leathery; embryo with ventral radicle, cotyledons fleshy, unequal; endosperm very small or absent. [from PROSEA]

In its original habitats jackfruit was apparently found mainly in evergreen forests at altitudes of 400-1200 m. The tree extends into much drier and cooler climates than Artocarpus altilis and Artocarpus integer; it fruits up to latitudes 30 degrees N and S in frost-free areas and bears good crops 25 degrees N and S of the equator. However, jackfruit thrives in warm and humid climates below 1000 m. In fact it has poor cold, drought and flooding tolerance, but moderate wind and salinity tolerance. The annual rainfall should be 1500 mm or more and the dry season not too prominent. The tree can be grown on different types of soil but performs best on deep, well-drained, alluvial, sandy or clay loam soils with pH 6.0-7.5. Nowadays it is generally planted near houses, villages and in forest gardens.

The pulp of young fruit is cooked as vegetable, pickled or canned in brine or curry; pulp of ripe fruit is eaten fresh or made into various local delicacies (e.g. 'dodol' and 'kolak' in Java), chutney, jam, jelly and paste, or preserved as candies by drying or mixing with sugar, honey or syrup. The pulp is also used to flavour ice-cream and beverages, or made into jackfruit honey, or reduced to a concentrate or powder and used for preparing drinks. Addition of synthetic flavours such as esters of 4-hydroxybutyric acid greatly improves the flavour of canned fruit and nectar. The seeds are eaten after boiling or roasting, or dried and salted as table nuts, or ground to make flour which is blended with wheat flour for baking. Young leaves are readily eaten by cattle and other livestock. The bark contains about 3.3% tannin, and is occasionally used in making cordage or cloth. A yellow dye extracted from wood particles is used to dye silk and the cotton robes of Buddhist priests. The latex serves as birdlime and is employed as a household cement for mending china and for caulking boats. The timber is classified as medium hardwood; it is resistant to termite attack, fungal and bacterial decay, easy to season and takes polish beautifully. Thus, though not as strong as teak, jackfruit wood is considered superior to teak for furniture, construction, turnery, masts, oars, implements, and musical instruments. The wood is widely used in Sri Lanka and India; it is even exported to Europe. Roots of older trees are highly prized for carving and picture-framing. The jackfruit tree is also renowned for its medicinal properties. In China jackfruit pulp and seeds are considered as a cooling and nutritious tonic, useful in overcoming the effects of alcohol. In South-East Asia, the seed starch is used to relieve biliousness and the roasted seeds are regarded as an aphrodisiac. Heated leaves are placed on wounds, and the ash of the leaves burned with maize and coconut shells is used to heal ulcers. Mixed with vinegar the latex promotes healing of abscesses, snakebite and glandular swellings. The bark is made into poultice. The wood has sedative properties and its pith is said to induce abortion. The root is used as a remedy against skin diseases and asthma, and its extract is taken in cases of fever and diarrhoea.

The jackfruit is most probably indigenous to and in the past grew wild in the rain forests of the Western Ghats, India. Since time immemorial it has been cultivated; it was introduced and became naturalized in many parts of the tropics, particularly in the South-East Asian region.

Local names
Borneo: Bedug, Nangka, Nangka batu.
Burma: peignai.
Cambodia: khnaor.
English: Jackfruit, jack (En).
French: Jacquier (Fr).
Indonesia: nangka, nongko (Javanese).
Laos: miiz, miiz hnang.
Malaysia: nangka.
Papua New Guinea: kapiak.
Philippines: langka.
Thailand: khanun (central), makmi (north-eastern), banun (Chiang Mai).
Vietnam: mit.