Fruits of this tropical tree are simply enormous. Usually weighing 4 – 10 kilograms particular fruits can come in at 40 kilos. By any measure that one heck of a feast. Fruits are roughly oval in shape and. arise on main trunks and large old stems. The spiney outer skin is cut away to reveal many large seeds, each surrounded by a strongly flavoured cream – yellow fleshy pocket. The aril or seed covering is the edible portion and is surrounded by inedible pith. When ripe the fruits have a distinctive smell reminiscent but nowhere as strong as the famous Durian which goes by the local name – “smells like hell tastes like heaven”. Jakfruit is a delightful treat eaten fresh it makes a memorable addition to curries. Unripened fruits are treated more like a vegetable in South East Asia and are boiled. The large seeds can be boiled then roasted and I’ve been told, rival roasted Chestnuts in flavour.
A glossy foliage feature tree Jakfruit is a large specimen in its native South East Asia. I believe that our dryer conditions around Perth will limit the growth to around 5 – 10 metres in height. Jakfruit trees have been planted in groves with spacings of 1 – 1.5 metres. This style of planting is worth looking at even for home gardens. Jakfruit are grown from seed and this always guarantees a range of flavours in the crops of different trees. A small grove of 4 or 5 trees would supply a range of flavours. Grown closely together individual trees would grow tall and thin. Jakfruit trees are tolerant of a wide range of climatic conditions and can be grown successfully in the Perth area and parts North. They do require high humidity during Summer – this can be achieved by covering the soil with a thick mulch up to 12cm (around 5 – 6 inches) deep. Heavy sprinkler irrigation through the warmer months is the other ingredient. Those folks with reticulated gardens will really see their plants shoot away, Jakfruit trees love plenty of moisture.
Being gross feeders it is important to keep your trees growing quickly through the summer months. N.P.K. Blue fertilizer is very successful but it is a very strong feeder and needs to be applied sparingly so as to avoid fertilizer burn.
How to beat our cold wet winters
More tropical plants perish through “cold wet feet” than from frosts in Perth. Here’s a simple effective solar heating devise to protect these plants from root problems. All you need is 2 pieces of plastic film and some bricks or rocks. Mulch your trees as mentioned before then cover the soil with a sheet of black plastic film – extend this sheet to cover the area from the trunk to the outer branches. Place bricks or rocks on the sheeting to weigh it down. Then place a sheet of clear plastic film on top weighing it down around the edges. This creates a solar warmth trap, the black plastic draws the heat and the airspace between the two sheets traps the warmth near the rootzone. This solar trap also keeps the roots dry – so you will need to water your trees by hose, probably once a week. Jakfruit is botanically known as Artocarpus Heterophyllus. They are self fertile so one tree alone will fruit successfully.