The Queen of Tropical Fruits

- Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam)

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When did the delicious fruits spread to overseas?
They grow in Yunnan and look like saliva of dragon.
People of the middle plains do not know the flavor,
They can only read ancient records in vain. 

In Xishuangbanna, people can often see flowers and fruits growing on aged tree trunks; and jackfruit is one of the plants that can form such scenes. The flowers and fruits of jackfruit do not grow on annual or vivacious branches; instead, they grow on the tree forks or tree trunks, sometimes even on the lower part of the trunks. 

Jackfruit is a kind of evergreen and tall arbor tree. Its fruits are very big and look like balls or elliptical objects hanging on the branches; the largest jackfruits can be as heavy as 30 kilograms. We can see hexagonal thorns on the skin of jackfruit, and the thorns become smoother when the fruits get ripen. The fruits are quite delicious for which jackfruit gets a nickname - “queen of tropical fruits”. Ripe jackfruits can be eaten when they are fresh, and can also be made into canned fruits; and unripe jackfruits can be cooked as vegetables. The seeds of jackfruits are elliptical and are quite smooth, which are rich in starch content. The size and the flavor of the seeds resemble those of Chinese chestnuts, and they can be steamed or fried. 

As a matter of fact, there are two types of jackfruits. The dry packing jackfruit trees have upright trunks, small canopies, and smooth barks. Their leaves are small and egg-shaped with coarse surface, the bottom part resembling a wedge. When the fruits are ripe, they turn to golden yellow; the pulp of the fruits is dry packed. They taste tender, sweet and refreshing; that’s why they are liked by many people. The other type is wet packed Jackfruit. This kind of jackfruit trees has thick and strong trunks, low forks, expanding shape, coarse bark, and dark green and bright leaves of leather-like elliptical shape. The bottom part of the leaves is usually round. When the fruits are ripe, they take on the color of light yellow; the pulp is soft and smooth, and tastes like sugar or honey. 

The wood of jackfruit trees is very hard, and the color is golden yellow. It can be used in civil constructions, manufacturing of furniture, and carving of craftworks as well as dyes for the industrial sectors. Jackfruit wood is a high-rank material for the carving of Buddhist statures, holy objects, and holy animals placed in the temples of Xishuangbanna. 

Jackfruit trees are hale and hearty. The more aged a tree is, the more and bigger fruits it bears, the more delicious the fruits taste, and the harder the wood is in the trunk. 

The native land of jackfruits is probably the mountain area in India. Jackfruit trees scatter in India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Malaysia etc.; in China, they mainly distribute in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan and Yunnan provinces etc.