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Breadfruit (artocarpus incisa)

A melon-sized fruit, first mentioned by the Capt. William Dampier - the English pirate/explorer - in 1688. He found it growing in Guam. Its nutritional virtues were brought to the fore by William Bligh (he was nicknamed "Breadfruit Bligh" because of his fixation with the plant), when he was sailing master on the Resolution on Capt. James Cook"s second expedition (1772-74). At the time it was the staple food of Tahiti and large areas of Polynesia and Malaysia, where it was gathered before it was ripe, and eaten as a vegetable, generally baked - it tastes like boiled potatoes with sweet milk or chestnuts added.

Bligh"s well documented mission on the Bounty in 1787 was to bring breadfruit to the West Indies, where plantations could be started.

Not so well known is that he returned to Tahiti in 1792 and this time completed his mission, planting ten saplings on St. Helena plus hundreds on St. Vincent (in the Grenadines) and on Jamaica.

Although it grew, breadfruit was not the success hoped for, the West Indians preferred plantains as their staple starch. One reason being that plantains ripen throughout the year, while breadfruit is seasonal. Bligh probably also introduced ackee (blighia sapida) to the West Indies - and this was a much more successful import! See also "Ackee (Blighia sapida)"

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