What can reach three feet in length, weigh up to 60 lbs and smell like decaying onion? A jackfruit, the largest tree-borne fruit in the world.
Sometimes called jakfruit, it is edible and despite its unpleasant odor when mature and unopened, the flesh is said to smell like pineapple and banana. Many people prefer to eat the fruit before it ripens. The seeds are also edible and prepared a variety of ways according to local customs worldwide. The wood is quite strong and termite-proof – it is used in a variety of applications including furniture and home construction.
Although the tree’s exact origins are unknown, it is likely native to India and has been introduced to tropical locations worldwide. In south Florida, the jackfruit tree is evergreen and grows well in frost-free areas, up to a height of 40 feet. There are several cultivars available that can be kept much shorter, even under ten feet. More information on the cultivars and planting and care of jackfruit can be found courtesy of the UF IFAS Extension Service here.
The Edisons, who had a great interest in unique tropical trees, had at least one jackfruit on their property in 1931. Mina Edison also included the tree on her tour of the gardens in 1938. Our jackfruit, located between the Guest House and McGregor Blvd, recently started producing its fruit. During the next 4-5 months, it will be fun to watch the fruits grow! Will they reach 60 lbs? Stay tuned or come by and see for yourself!
Britta Hanson Soderqvist, Plant Curator