Artocarpus altilis – Breadfruit

Artocarpus altilis - Breadfruit, 'Ulu

Artocarpus altilis - Breadfruit, 'Ulu (fruit)

Artocarpus altilis - Breadfruit, 'Ulu (male flower)

Artocarpus altilis - Breadfruit, 'Ulu (female flower)

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Artocarpus altilis

Synonyms: Artocarpus communis, Sitodium altile

Common Names: Breadfruit, 'Ulu

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial, Evergreen

Growth Habit: Tree

Hawaii Native Status: Cultivated. This food plant is native to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands, but it is now grown in tropical areas around the World.

Flower Color: Green

Height: To 65 feet (20 m) tall or more, but usually less

Description: The plants are monoecious with male and female flowers on the same plant. The tiny male flowers emerge first and are on spongy, erect, cylindrical to club-shaped, up to 18 inch (45 cm) long, yellow-green inflorescences. The tiny female flowers are on prickly, ball-shaped, lime green inflorescences. The female flowers are followed by large, rounded, smooth to spiny, typically seedless, green to yellowish multiple fruits with white to pale yellow flesh. The leaves have yellow veins and are glossy dark green, leathery, alternate, up to 3 feet (91 cm) long, egg-shaped, and barely lobed to deeply pinnately lobed. The bark is smooth and gray in color. The plants contain milky latex sap, and the fruits and leaves often have dried, bird dropping-like splatters of white sap on them.

Here in Hawaii, Breadfruit grows in tropical lowland areas, especially in those areas near ancient Hawaiian settlements. These fast-growing trees are mainly propagated by root shoots and root cuttings.

Special Characteristics

Canoe Plant – The ancient Polynesians brought Breadfruit to Hawaii in their canoes. The plants and especially the milky sap were used for medicinal purposes. The fruits were cooked and eaten and sometimes used to make poi.

Edible – The white flesh of the fruits is edible if cooked and is quite delicious. Eating the raw, uncooked fruits will cause nausea and vomiting, but the cooked fruits are safe to eat. The firm, starchy, less ripe fruits can be cooked and used just like potatoes, while the softer, sweeter, fully ripe fruits can be mixed with coconut milk to make delicious pudding. The fully ripe fruits have yellowish to brownish skin.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Hamamelididae
Order: Urticales
Family: Moraceae – Mulberry family
Genus: Artocarpus J.R. Forst. & G. Forst. – breadfruit
Species: Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg – breadfruit