Captain James Cook encountered breadfruit on his voyages in the Pacific, and recommended to the notice of the British government. He suggested that it would make a good staple food for the British slaves on the sugar plantations.

Captain William Bligh - the guy from Mutiny on the Bounty - brought breadfruit, with great difficulty, to the West Indies. Keep in mind that breadfruit grows from cuttings; that there was no Panama Canal; breadfruit die in cold weather; Bligh had the nearly impossible task of sailing around Cape Horn with 1000 live breadfruit trees on deck in wooden tubs. The first voyage in 1789 failed. The sailors mutinied and set Bligh adrift in an open boat, pelting him with the unpopular breadfruit.

Bligh's second attempt, in 1792, was successful, but the slaves of the West Indian plantations refused to eat the breadfruit; they were said to prefer plantains.

I saw a breadfruit tree in Hawaii and got all excited. They were huge and easy to pick. The woman who ran our hotel told me to try baking it, so I cut it open and put it in a casserole dish. Unfortunately it turned out totally nasty.

Breadfruit. The breadfruit is a large, globular fruit of a pale-green color, about the size of a child's head, marked on the surface with irregular six-sided depressions and containing a white and somewhat fibrous pulp, which when ripe becomes juicy and yellow. The tree that produces it grows wild in Tahiti and other islands of the South Seas. It is about 40 feet high, with large and spreading branches, and has large bright green leaves, deeply divided into seven or nine spear-shaped lobes. The eatable part of this fruit lies between the skin and the core, and it is white as snow and somewhat of the consistency of new bread. When gathered it is generally used immediately; if it be kept more than 24 hours, it becomes hard and choky. The inhabitants of the South Sea Islands prepare it as food by dividing the fruit into three or four parts and roasting it in hot embers. Its taste is insipid, with a slight tartness. As the climate of the South Sea Islands is not very different from that of the West Indies, it was thought desirable that some of the trees should be be transferred in a growing state to the British islands there; and it was for this purpose that the "Bounty" sailed in 1787 to the South Seas, under the command of the well-known Bligh. This expedition being unsuccessful, a second, also under Bligh, was fitted out in 1791. He arried in safety at Tahiti, and after an absence from England of about 18 months, landed in Jamaica with 352 breadfruit trees in a living state, having left many others at different places in his passage thither. From Jamaica these trees were transfered to other islands; but the negroes, having a general and long-established predilection for the plantain, the breadfruit is not much relished by them. Where, however, it has not been generally introduced as an article of food, it is used as a delicacy; and whether employed as bread or in the form of pudding, it is considered highly palatable by the white inhabitants.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

Bread"fruit` (?), n. Bot.


The fruit of a tree (Artocarpus incisa) found in the islands of the Pacific, esp. the South Sea islands. It is of a roundish form, from four to six or seven inches in diameter, and, when baked, somewhat resembles bread, and is eaten as food, whence the name.

2. Bot.

The tree itself, which is one of considerable size, with large, lobed leaves. Cloth is made from the bark, and the timber is used for many purposes. Called also breadfruit tree and bread tree.


© Webster 1913.

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