Jackfruit, Kathal, Chakka
Jackfruit or 'Artocarpus heterophyllus' is a tropical fruit tree native to the Indian subcontinent and originated in the werstern ghats. However, many varieties of jackfruit are found in Southeast Asian countries. It's the national fruit of Bangladesh.
- Origin: Western Ghats
- Common names: Jackfruit, Jakfruit, Jack Tree, Kathal, Chakka, Plavu, Kanun and Panasa
- Scientific name: Artocarpus heterophyllus
- Botanical family: Moraceae
- Edibility rating: 10/10
- Health Benefits: 8/10
Growing jackfruit tree
Jackfruit is a large, fast-growing tree that can grow up to 80 feet tall. However, there is great variation in stature among the different jackfruit varieties. It prefers a hot and humid climate and tolerates a range of soils, including clay, loam and sand. The tree needs full sun to bear fruit.
Jackfruit is equally popular as a fruit and as a vegetable.
The planting distance depends on the variety that is planted. It can vary from 12 to 40 feet.
Regular watering or fertilising is rarely required for jackfruit trees for home use. However, watering should be done during severe drought, especially during fruiting. However, excess watering will affect the fruit flavour.
For commercial cultivation, especially for the early fruiting varieties like the Vietnam super early, irrigation is recommended in the summer and the fruiting season.
Also occasionally apply some organic manure like vermicompost or cattle manure.
The tree requires minimal pruning, primarily to remove dead or damaged wood and to shape the tree. It is a good practice to remove the side branches of the young plant till it reaches a height of 4-5 feet. This ensure good trunk development and shape.
A few varieties like the "Vietnam Super Early" can be grown in containers. It requires a large container to accommodate its size and root system.
Jackfruit description and taste
The jackfruit is one of the largest edible fruits in the world, with some varieties of jackfruit weighing as much as 30 kg. A spiky, green or yellowish-green skin covers the fruit. The flesh is yellow and divided into bulb-like segments or the carpels.
There are two major division among different jackfruit varieties with regards to the ripe fruit quality. They are soft and firm varieties, or the koozha or the varikka as they say in the local vernacular. In the soft variety, the carpels become soft when ripe. They are usually more fibrous too. The firm ones are usually the table fruit varieties. For someone not very familar with this division, always opt for the firm carpel varieties for planting.
Jackfruit has a sweet, tropical flavour and is used in a variety of ways. Fried jackfruit is a popular snack. The seeds are also edible and are commonly roasted or boiled. The fruit is a good source of fibre, which makes it an ingredient for weight loss preparations.
Jackfruit is found to be a good for dibetic patients and there are patented products available in the market made of dried and powdered jackfruit.
The unripe fruit of the jackfruit tree is used as a vegetarian meat substitute.
The wood of the jackfruit tree is durable and insect-resistant. It is used for making furniture.