Jackfruit is one of the commonly consumed foods in Sri Lanka from the ancient time. It is a nonseasonal fruit and had a major contribution to the food supply of the people and their livestock when there were short supplies of staple food grains.Therefore, it is referred to as poorman’s food.
It is a monoecious tree and both male and female inflorescences are found on the same tree. The fertilization is by cross-pollination and the propagation is mostly through seeds. The complete fruit development process takes about three to seven months from the pollination, varying in different countries.
Jackfruit has a relatively high productivity, about 25.71 t/ha. The fruits are borne in the main and side branches of the tree. A mature jacktree can yield from ten to two hundred fruits.
They are dicotyledonous compound fruits, which are oblong cylindrical in shape, and the length of the fruits ranges from 22 to 90 centimeters with the diameter 13-50 centimeters. The weight of individual fruits may vary between 2 and 20 kilo grams, and larger fruits of about 50 kilograms have been recorded.
Jackfruit has a green to yellow brown exterior rind that is composed of hexagonal, bluntly conical carpel apices that cover a thick, rubbery, and whitish to yellowish wall. It is a multiple aggregate fruit which is formed by the fusion of multiple flowers in an inflorescence . About 30% of the fruit weight is occupied by the flesh. There are large number of bulbs inside the fruit, which have high nutritional value.
The fruit is made up of three main regions. They are
- The fruit axis.
- The persistent perianth.
- The true fruit.
Due to the presence of laticiferous cells that produce latex, which helps to hold the fruits together, the axis and the core of the fruit are inedible.
The perianth is made up of three regions:
- The bulb (the lower fleshy edible region).
- The middle-fused region that forms the rind of the syncarp.
- horny nonedible region commonly known as the spikes.
The fruit colour changes from yellowish green to yellow due to the conversion of chlorophylls, anthocyanins, and carotenoids like pigments during ripening. Depending on the variety, the colour of the bulb can be cream, white, light yellow, yellow, deep yellow, lemon yellow light saffron, saffron, deep saffron, or orange.
Jackfruit seeds are light brown, rounded, 2-3 cm in length by 1-1.5 cm in diameter. They are surrounded by the flesh and enclosed in a white aril surrounding a thin brown spermoderm, which covers the fleshy white cotyledon. It has been found that these are rich in carbohydrates and proteins.