The jackfruit is native to parts of South-East Asia and South Asia. It is a species that is part of the mulberry family. It is also the national fruit of Bangladesh. Its claim to fame is that it is the jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world as it can reach up 36kg in weight, 90cm long, and 50cm in diameter.
Playing a significant role in Indian agriculture for centuries, archaeological findings have found that the jackfruit was cultivated in India between 3000 to 6000 years ago. It was also found that the Indian Emperor, Ashoka the Great (274-237 BC) also encouraged arbori-horticulture of the jackfruit. In addition, a treatise was written on how grafting can be done on jackfruit trees.
Outside of Asia, it can be found in Asian food markets. It has also been cultivated along the coastal regions of Brazil, and sold in local supermarkets. Jackfruit trees mature at 35-40 years of age. When they have matured, their wood can be used for furniture. In India, the jackfruit wood is used to make houses in India. It is used for doors, windows, and to construct roofs. The heartwood of the jackfruit tree is used by Buddhist forest monastics as a type of dye.
The wood of the tree is also used to manufacture musical instruments. For example, in Indonesia it is used to make the gamelan. In the Philippines, lutes are made out of the jackfruit tree’s wood. In India, it used for a variety of musical instruments such as veena, kanjira, and mridangam.
In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the jackfruit is one of the 3 auspicious fruits of this state. The other 2 auspicious fruits are mangoes and bananas.
The flesh of the jackfruit is fibrous, starchy, and a good source of dietray fiber. It tastes almost like a tart banana. In South and South-East Asian cuisines, it can be eaten unripe if it is young in a cooked or uncooked form. Its seeds can be boiled or baked, and its leaves are used for wrapping steamed idlis, which is an Indian food.
You can also find jackfruit in Uganda and Rwanda, Africa.