Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Artocarpus altilis



Artocarpus altilis (breadfruit)


  • Last modified
  • 13 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Artocarpus altilis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • breadfruit
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. altilis is a fast-growing evergreen tree frequently cultivated and naturalized through the tropics (Ragone, 2011...

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg

Preferred Common Name

  • breadfruit

Other Scientific Names

  • Artocarpus altilis var. non-seminiferus (Duss) Fournet
  • Artocarpus altilis var. seminiferus (Duss) Fournet
  • Artocarpus camansi Blanco
  • Artocarpus communis J. R. Forst. & G. Forst.
  • Artocarpus incisus (Thunb.) L. f.
  • Artocarpus incisus var. non-seminiferus Duss
  • Artocarpus incisus var. seminiferus Duss
  • Artocarpus laevis Hassk.
  • Artocarpus rima Blanco
  • Sitodium altile Parkinson

International Common Names

  • English: breadnut (seeded varieties); dugdug
  • Spanish: albopán; àrbo del pan; árbol de pan; castaña; fruta de pan; pana; pana de pepita; panapén
  • French: âme veritable; arbre à pain; arbre véritable; châtaignier à grains
  • Portuguese: arbol-pao-de-Brasil; mapen

Local Common Names

  • : kapiak
  • Brazil: arvore-do-Pao-fruta; fruta-pao; fruta-pao-de-caroço; pao-de-massa; pao-de-pobre; rima
  • Cambodia: khanaôr sâmloo; sakéé
  • Cuba: castaño del malabar; fruto del mar; guapén; mapén; palo de pan
  • Dominican Republic: abapen; arbapen; buen pan; celipi; juan pan; pan de fruta
  • Fiji: kulu; uto; uto mbutho; uto ndina
  • Germany: Brotfruchtbaum, echter
  • Guatemala: arbol de mazapan
  • Haiti: châtaignier des Antilles; jaquier; meat fruit; pti-l’arbre à pain; rimier
  • Indonesia: kelur (seeded); sukun (seedless); timbul (seeded)
  • Italy: albero del pane; artocarpo
  • Kiribati: te mai
  • Lesser Antilles: breadnut; bwapan; châtaigne; châtaignier; fruit á pain; seeded breadfruit
  • Malaysia: kelor (seeded); kelur; sukun (seedless); timbul
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: mei
  • Netherlands: broodvruchtboom
  • Nicaragua: fruta de pan
  • Papua New Guinea: kapiak
  • Philippines: kamansi (seeded); rimas (seedless)
  • Puerto Rico: lavapén; mapén; pana forastera
  • Samoa: 'viu
  • Solomon Islands: bia; nimbalu
  • Sri Lanka: erapillakai; rata del
  • Sweden: broedfrukttraed
  • Thailand: khanun-sampalaor; sa-ke (seedless)
  • Tonga: mai; mei
  • Vanuatu: beta
  • Venezuela: frutepan; pan del año
  • Vietnam: saké

EPPO code

  • ABFAL (Artocarpus altilis)

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. altilis is a fast-growing evergreen tree frequently cultivated and naturalized through the tropics (Ragone, 2011). This species is one of the most common trees planted in agroforestry systems in the Pacific islands, but it is also an important starchy staple crop in Oceania, India, Africa, and the West Indies (Orwa et al., 2009). There are seeded and seedless varieties which have been repeatedly introduced and extensively moved by humans within and outside their native distribution range (Morton, 1987; Parrotta, 1994; Ragone, 2006). A. altilis has escaped from cultivation and became naturalized in disturbed and natural areas. Once naturalized, plants grow outcompeting (mainly by shading) seedlings and native understory species (Abreu and Rodrigues, 2010). A. altilis is included in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012) and is listed as invasive in Costa Rica, Brazil, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (Kairo et al., 2003; Chacon and Saborio, 2012; I3N-Brazil, 2014).  

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Urticales
  •                         Family: Moraceae
  •                             Genus: Artocarpus
  •                                 Species: Artocarpus altilis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The Moraceae are monoecious or dioecious trees, shrubs, and rarely herbs comprising about 39 genera and 1125 species distributed mostly in tropical to warm temperate regions (Stevens, 2012; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014). Nearly all species within this family contain milky latex and have alternate or opposite leaves and small, unisexual, and minute flowers (Wilmott-Dear and Brummitt, 2007). The genus Artocarpus includes 61 species native to the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Australasia (Kochummen, 2000; Stevens, 2012). The generic name Artocarpus comes from the Greek words ‘artos’ (bread) and ‘karpos’ (fruit) and many species and varieties produce fruits which are eaten by humans (Orwa et al., 2009; Ragone, 2011). 


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Monoecious tree, up to 30 m tall, evergreen in the humid tropics, semi-deciduous in monsoon climates. Trunk straight, 5-8 m tall, 0.6-1.8 m in diameter, often buttressed; trunk of clonally propagated trees branched low; twigs spreading, very thick, with pronounced leaf and stipule scars and lenticels; buds 10-20 cm long, covered with big conical keeled stipules. Leaves alternate, ovate to elliptical in outline, 20-60(-90) x 20-40(-50) cm, undivided when young, older ones entire or deeply pinnately cut into 5-11-pointed lobes, thick, leathery, dark green and shiny above, pale green and rough below, petiole 3-5 cm long. Inflorescences axillary, peduncles 4-8 cm long; male ones drooping, club-shaped, 15-25 x 3-4 cm, spongy, yellow, flowers minute with single stamen; female ones stiffly upright, globose or cylindrical, 8-10 x 5-7 cm, green, flowers numerous, embedded in receptacle, calyx tubular, ovary 2-celled, style narrow, stigma 2-lobed. Fruit a syncarp formed from the entire inflorescence, cylindrical to globose, 10-30 cm in diameter, rind yellow-green, reticulately marked with 4-6-sided faces, sometimes bearing short spines; a large central core is surrounded by numerous abortive flowers which form a pale yellow juicy pulp, the edible portion of the fruit.

Most cultivated breadfruits are seedless, seeded ones are known as breadnuts. Breadnuts bear fleshy prickles, the edible pulp is largely replaced by the seeds, which are brownish, rounded or flattened, 2.5 cm long. All parts of the tree are rich in white gummy latex.

Other Botanical Information

The seeded breadfruit is considered to be the wild form, although both seeded and seedless forms are cultivated. So-called seedless forms occasionally produce fruit with some seeds. Forms with entire leaves and with both seeds and edible pulp are sometimes classified as a separate species: Artocarpus mariannensis Tr cul. Based on leaf, fruit and seed characteristics, hundreds of breadfruit cultivars have been described and named, particularly in the Pacific islands. Usually the cultivars are poorly defined and only grown in one or two localities, so that it is not easy to compare cultivars.

Plant Type

Top of page Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


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The exact origin of A. altilis is uncertain, but it is believed to be native to Papua New Guinea, the Moluccas (Indonesia), and the Philippines (Kochummen, 2000; Ragone, 2011). This species has long been an important staple food crop in Polynesia and is widely cultivated throughout the tropics (Zerega et al., 2004; Ragone 2006, 2011). A. altilis is now widely distributed throughout the humid tropics, including in Oceania, Asia, Africa, North, Central and South America and the West Indies (see distribution table for details: Morton, 1987; Orwa et al., 2009; Ragone, 2011; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014). 

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes


BangladeshPresent Planted
Brunei DarussalamPresent Planted
CambodiaPresent Planted
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-GuangdongPresent Planted
-HainanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentPlanted, Natural
IndiaPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
-Andhra PradeshPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
-GoaPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
-KarnatakaPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
-KeralaPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
-LakshadweepPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Irian JayaPresentPlanted, Natural
-JavaPresent Planted
-KalimantanPresentPlanted, Natural
-MoluccasPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-SulawesiPresentPlanted, Natural
-SumatraPresent Planted
JordanPresent Planted
LaosPresent Planted
MalaysiaPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresent Planted
-SabahPresentPlanted, Natural
-SarawakPresent Planted
MaldivesPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
PhilippinesPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
SingaporePresent Planted
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
TaiwanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
ThailandPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
VietnamPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009


BeninPresent Planted
CameroonPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2014
ComorosPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
Côte d'IvoirePresent Planted
GabonPresent Planted
GambiaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
GhanaPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2014
GuineaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
KenyaPresent Planted
LiberiaPresent Planted
MadagascarPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
MauritiusPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006
NigeriaPresent Planted
Sierra LeonePresent Planted
TanzaniaPresent Planted
-ZanzibarPresent Planted
TogoPresent Planted
UgandaPresent Planted

North America

MexicoPresent Planted Orwa et al., 2009
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedMorton, 1987
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalised

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Antigua and BarbudaWidespreadIntroduced
BahamasPresent Planted
BarbadosWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
BelizePresentIntroduced Invasive Meerman, 2008
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Cultivated
Costa RicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Chacon and Saborio, 2012
CubaPresentIntroducedKairo et al., 2003Cultivated and naturalized
DominicaWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedKairo et al., 2003Cultivated and naturalized
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedDavidse et al., 2014
GrenadaWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
GuadeloupeWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
HaitiPresentIntroducedKairo et al., 2003Cultivated and naturalized
HondurasPresentIntroducedDavidse et al., 2014
JamaicaPresentIntroducedKairo et al., 2003Cultivated and naturalized
MartiniqueWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
MontserratWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Netherlands AntillesWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedDavidse et al., 2014
PanamaPresentIntroducedDavidse et al., 2014
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Saint Kitts and NevisWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Saint LuciaWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012

South America

BoliviaPresentIntroducedDavidse et al., 2014
BrazilPresent Planted
-AlagoasPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-AmazonasPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-BahiaPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N Brasil, 2014
-CearaPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-MaranhaoPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-ParaPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-ParaibaPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-PiauiPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-Rio Grande do NortePresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-RondoniaPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-RoraimaPresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
-SergipePresentIntroducedRomaniuc et al., 2014
ColombiaPresentIntroducedIdarraga-Piedrahita et al., 2011
EcuadorPresentIntroducedDavidse et al., 2014
French GuianaPresent Planted
GuyanaPresent Planted
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedHokche et al., 2008


American SamoaPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
-QueenslandPresent Planted
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
FijiPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
GuamPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
KiribatiPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
NauruPresentPlanted, Natural
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
NiuePresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009Cultivated and naturalized
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
PalauPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
Papua New GuineaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
Pitcairn IslandPresentPlanted, Natural
SamoaPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
TokelauPresentPlanted, Natural
TongaPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
TuvaluPresentPlanted, Natural
VanuatuPresentIntroducedRagone, 2006Cultivated and naturalized
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentPlanted, Natural

History of Introduction and Spread

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A. altilis was first domesticated in the western Pacific and was spread by humans throughout Oceania and the numerous islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia where it has been an important staple crop and component of traditional Pacific agroforestry systems for more than 3000 years (Zerega et al., 2004; Ragone 2006, 2011).

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, seeded breadfruit trees from the Philippines were introduced by Spaniards to Mexico and Central America (Parrotta, 1994). In the late 1700s seedless breadfruit trees from Tahiti were introduced by British explorers to Jamaica and St Vincent to provide cheap food for their slaves (Morton, 1987; Ragone, 2011). During this period, a Tongan variety was also introduced to Martinique and Cayenne via Mauritius by French explorers (Ragone, 2011). In 1772, the French navigator Sonnerat obtained seeded breadfruit trees in the Philippines and brought them to the French West Indies, and in 1874, seeded breadfruit trees were introduced to Jamaica (Morton, 1987; Little and Skolmen, 2003). These seedless and seeded plants were then spread to other Caribbean islands, and throughout Central and South America (Morton, 1987; Ragone, 2006). In Brazil, Artocarpus species were introduced around the 1860s (Abreu and Rodrigues, 2010). In 1906, the United States Department of Agriculture introduced breadfruit trees from Panama into Florida (Morton, 1987). 

Risk of Introduction

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Even when it has been suggested that A. altilis has a limited potential for invasiveness (Ragone, 2006; 2011), seeded varieties have escaped from cultivation and naturalized in tropical areas (Kairo et al., 2003). In addition, this species has been actively planted by humans for centuries, and currently breadfruit trees are common elements of disturbed secondary forests, forest edges, roadsides, and old plantations and gardens throughout the tropics (Little and Skolmen, 2003, Orwa et al., 2009). Consequently, the likelihood of this species escaping from cultivation and invading new habitats remains high. 


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A. altilis can be found cultivated and naturalized in the warm and very humid lowlands in house gardens, active and old plantations, agroforestry systems, disturbed secondary forests, forest edges, roadsides, and coastal forests (Parrotta, 1994; Little and Skolmen, 2003; Orwa et al., 2009; Ragone, 2011). This species grows best in lowlands at elevations from sea level to 650 m, but it is occasionally found in highlands up to 1550 m (Orwa et al., 2009; Ragone, 2011).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Coastal areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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A. altilis is genetically diverse, especially the seeded varieties in the western Pacific (Ragone, 2011). There are diploid (2n = 56) and triploid (2n = 84) forms and numerous varieties have been developed and are perpetuated by vegetative propagation (Morton, 1987; Ragone, 2001; Orwa et al., 2009).

Reproductive Biology

A. altilis trees are monoecious (i.e., male and female flowers occur on the same tree). The flowering pattern appears to depend on the cultivar rather than the climate, at least in the humid tropics. Most cultivars flower throughout the year, but some flower and fruit seasonally. Further from the equator, however, the seasons determine shoot growth and all cultivars flower and fruit more or less simultaneously. The male and female inflorescences are produced in separate leaf axils of the current season's growth. Male inflorescences emerge before the female ones. The proportion of male inflorescences on a tree may vary from 60-80%. Flowers are visited and pollinated by insects, mostly bees, but wind-aided pollination has also been suggested (Parrotta, 1994): if tapped at anthesis, the flowers release clouds of pollen. The male inflorescences reach anthesis 10-15 days after emergence and well before the female inflorescences on the same tree, thus limiting self-pollination. Female flowers are receptive 3 days after the emergence of the female inflorescence from the bracts and open in successive stages, with basal flowers opening first (Orwa et al., 2009; Flora of China, 2014).

The flowers in a female inflorescence are pollinated and fertilized (in seeded cultivars) within a period of 3-6 days. About 75% of the inflorescences set fruit, but this is considerably reduced during the rainy season, strengthening the impression that the seedless fruits also depend on pollination to stimulate parthenocarpic growth. The fruit matures 60-90(-110) days after the inflorescence emerges. In the seeded form there is little pulp and each fruit contains 20-60 edible seeds.

Physiology and Phenology

Seeds germinate about 2 weeks after sowing. The seedlings tend to grow slowly, but they respond well to better growing conditions. Under favorable environmental conditions, trees grow 0.5-1.5 m in height per year and 0.5-1 m in trunk diameter in the first 10-12 years (Ragone, 2011). Trees growing from seeds begin flowering and fruiting in 6 to 10 years while vegetatively propagated trees start flowering and fruiting in 3 to 6 years (Ragone, 2006). Under stress the trees shed most of their leaves, tufts of young leaves persisting at the tip of the twigs.

A. altilis trees produce flowers and fruits throughout the year. Fruits in all stages of development can be found on trees the year around, but there are two or three main fruiting periods (Morton, 1987). In the Pacific region, the main crop typically occurs during the hot, rainy, summer months, followed by a smaller crop 3 or 4 months later (Ragone, 2006).


A. altilis is a perennial, long-lived tree. Small branches often die back after fruiting, but new shoots and branches are continually developed throughout the life of the tree (Ragone, 2006).


In the Pacific islands, A. altilis is often planted in agroforestry systems with yam (Dioscorea spp), taro (Colocasia spp), Tahitian chestnut (Inocarpus fagifer), cassava, noni (Morinda citrifolia), kava (Piper methysticum), bananas, citrus, papaya, coconut, coffee, and cacao (Ragone, 2006). In Papua New Guinea, A. altilis grows naturally in wet lowland forests in association with Alstonia scholaris, Dracontomelon dao, Garuga spp., Octomeles sumatrana, Allophyluscobbe, Pterocymbium spp., and Terminalia catappoides (Parrotta, 1994). In Puerto Rico, cultivated and naturalized A. altilis plants can be found growing in association with native and alien species such as Andira inermis, Genipa americana, Guarea guidonia, Mangifera indica and Tabebuia heterophylla (Parrotta, 1994).

Environmental Requirements

A. altilis prefers to grow in warm and wet lowland areas of the tropics. The normal latitudinal limits are approximately 17°N and S; the maritime climate of small islands allows growth to 20-23°N. This species prefers climates with bimodal rainfall with mean annual precipitation ranging from 1500 to 3000 mm (Ragone, 2006), and relative humidity of 70-90%. A. altilis grows best in deep, fertile (pH 6.1-7.4), and well drained soils. It tolerates saline soils and shaded conditions (20-50% shade). Plants are able to grow in coralline, sandy, sandy loam and sandy clay soils but do not tolerate frost or water-logged soils (Ragone, 2011). Cultivars differ greatly in their tolerance of adverse conditions; there are cultivars that cope well with shallow calcareous soils, brackish water and salt sprays, annual rainfall of only 1500 or 1000 mm, etc.

The tree is occasionally found in the highlands (even up to 1500 m) and at higher latitudes, but yield and fruit quality suffer in cooler conditions and the tree is more at home in the equatorial lowlands (below 600 m). Whereas the trees shed their leaves under dry conditions, it is said that they shed their fruit when the soil is excessively wet; so yield may be depressed on marginal soils.


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
20 -20 0 1500

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 7 17
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 23 27
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 26 32
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 20 25


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration03number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall10005000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • saline

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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A. altilis spreads sexually by seeds and vegetatively by root cuttings, suckers, or layering (Orwa et al., 2009; Ragone, 2011). Vegetative propagation is a must for seedless varieties. Seed germination occurs immediately after dispersal, but seeds also lose viability quickly and cannot be dried or stored (Ragone, 2011). 

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionCultivated for fruits and seeds Yes Yes Ragone, 2011
DisturbanceNaturalized in disturbed areas Yes Yes Little and Skolmen, 2003
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes Yes Orwa et al., 2009
Food Yes Yes Ragone, 2011
ForestryWidely cultivated in agroforestry Yes Yes Ragone, 2011
Medicinal useUsed in traditional medicine in the Pacific and Caribbean Yes Yes Ragone, 2006
Ornamental purposesPlanted as shade tree in gardens Yes Yes Ragone, 2006

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activities Yes Yes Ragone, 2011

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive and negative

Environmental Impact

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A. altilis has escaped from cultivation and became naturalized in disturbed and natural areas. Once naturalized, plants grow outcompeting (shading) seedlings and native species in the understory of native forests (Abreu and Rodrigues, 2010). Because this species spreads by seeds and vegetatively by suckers and cuttings, it has the potential to create monospecific stands displacing slow growing native plants and smothering native plant communities (Kairo et al., 2003; Chacon and Saborio, 2012; I3N-Brazil, 2014).  

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately


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A. altilis is often planted for its edible fruits and seeds, but trees are also attractive for ornament and shade (Orwa et al., 2009). Breadfruit is consumed as a starchy staple when mature mostly in the Pacific islands, Africa and the West Indies. Fruits can be eaten raw, boiled, steamed or roasted (Ragone, 2006; Orwa et al., 2009). The fruit may be cooked whole or after cutting it; thin slices are also fried. A kind of biscuit is made by slicing the ripe cooked fruit and drying in the sun or in an oven; thus prepared it can be kept until the next fruiting season. On many Pacific islands breadfruit is preserved in pits or by burying (Samoa). The stored fruit ferments and is converted into a nutritious but disagreeably smelling cheese-like paste, which is made into cakes and baked. Commercial processing is limited to preserving the boiled cut fruit in brine. In the Philippines, the mature seedless fruit is boiled and eaten with sugar and grated coconut or coated with sugar and dehydrated; immature seeded fruit is cooked as a vegetable with coconut milk.

In other areas, such as Mexico and Central America, breadfruit is used principally as forage and fodder for cattle, goats, pigs, and horses. Foliage is also served as forage for cattle during periods of drought in Hawaii (Little and Skolmen, 2003).

The male flower spikes are blended with fibre of paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) to make elegant loincloths. The smooth, grey bark is fibrous and was once a source of the native cloth 'tapa'. The milky sap is used to caulk canoes, as a glue to catch birds and as a chewing gum. The light yet quite firm, nicely grained wood is used for surf boards, canoes, furniture, carvings and in construction of houses. Wood is resistant to termites and marine worms (Orwa et al., 2009). Trees are also an important source of firewood on islands in the Pacific (Ragone, 2006).

A. altilis is a cultural icon in the Pacific (Ragone, 2009). All parts of the plant (especially the latex, leaves, and the inner bark) are used in traditional medicine to treat headaches, diarrhea, stomachache, and dysentery (Ragone, 2011). In the West Indies, the yellowing leaf is brewed into a tea and taken to reduce high blood pressure. The tea is also thought to control diabetes (Orwa et al., 2009) and relieve asthma. Dried flowers can be burned to repel mosquitoes and other flying insects (Ragone, 2011). Chewed young leaves are said to counteract food poisoning.

In the Pacific islands, A. altilis is also planted as soil improver and to support yam vines in traditional agroforestry systems (Ragone, 2006). Trees are also planted as windbreaks and sometimes as shade trees for coffee (Jensen, 1995). 

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage


  • Agroforestry
  • Amenity
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Shade and shelter
  • Soil improvement
  • Windbreak


  • Fuelwood


  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Flour/starch
  • Fruits
  • Gum/mucilage
  • Honey/honey flora
  • Seeds
  • Vegetable


  • Carved material
  • Dye/tanning
  • Fibre
  • Gum/resin
  • Miscellaneous materials
  • Pesticide
  • Resins
  • Rubber/latex
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore


  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Wood Products

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  • Boxes
  • Crates


Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • For heavy construction
  • For light construction


  • Wood carvings


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Links to Websites

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Breadfruit Institute
PROTA: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products
World Agroforestry Centre


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25/03/14 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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