Treculia africana

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Local names:
English (wild jackfruit,African breadfruit,African boxwood), French (abre รก pain d' Afrique), Luganda (muzinda), Swahili (mwaya), Wolof (brebretim)

Treculia africana is an evergreen forest tree 10-30 (max. 50) m in height and 3 m in girth with a dense spreading crown and fluted trunk. Bark grey, smooth and thick; when cut, exuding white latex which later turns rusty-red. 

Leaves simple, alternate, very large, about 30 (max. 50) x 14 (max. 20) cm, dark green, smooth above, tough, paler below with some hairs on the 10-18 pairs of clear veins; tip pointed; a short stalk to 1.5 cm. Young leaves red or yellow.

Flower head brown-yellow, rounded, 2.5-10 cm across, male and female usually separate, growing beside leaves (axillary) or on older wood down the trunk.

Fruit compound, rounded, very large, on the trunk or main branches, containing many orange seeds, about 1 cm, buried in spongy pulp of the fruit. The outer surface is covered with rough pointed outgrowths. The fruit attains 40 cm in diameter and weighs 8-14 kg.

Based on detailed field observations, 3 varieties have been recognized: T. africana var. africana, T. africana var. inversa and T. africana var. mollis. Their taxonomic differences are based mainly on the size of the fruit head (infructence) and the hairiness of branchlets and leaves.

There is a striking variation in the number of fruit heads produced by trees belonging to T. african var. africana (with large fruit heads) and T. african var. inversa (with small fruit heads). The former is clearly superior in the weight of seeds produced while the latter produces more fruit and also produces twice as many branches.

Ecology

A fruit tree of riverine forest in tropical Africa, Treculia is usually found near streams or in swampy areas in forests. It is not very light demanding and will grow in a wide variety of soils and climatic conditions. It will thrive in most tropical and subtropical regions.

Native range
Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sao Tome et Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia

Tree management

T. africana is a fairly fast-growing tree. Under favourable climatic conditions and in good soil, 120-200 kg dried grains can be harvested in a year from 1 tree; this would translate to 5-10 t/ha.

Seed storage behaviour is orthodox. There are 4500-5000 seeds/kg.

A fruit tree of riverine forest in tropical Africa, Treculia is usually found near streams or in swampy areas in forests. It is not very light demanding and will grow in a wide variety of soils and climatic conditions. It will thrive in most tropical and subtropical regions.

Propagation is by seedlings, which are sown in pots, and direct spot sowing at site. Pretreatment of seeds is not necessary. It is also propagated through budding, cuttings and shield grafting. Using adult scions, budded trees have produced fruits with viable seeds within 2-4 years. With juvenile cuttings, one can obtain 69% rooting. Where climatic conditions are favourable, fruit collection is possible throughout the year.

Erosion control: T. africana has been used in soil conservation. 

 The seeds are extracted after macerating the fruit in water and then ground to a meal, known as breadfruit flour, which can be used to produce a variety of baked foods. A non-alcoholic beverage, almond milk, can be prepared from powdered seeds, which is recommended as a breakfast drink in Nigeria. Seeds can be dried, fried or roasted and eaten, and an edible oil can be extracted from them.  The grains have an excellent polyvalent dietetic value; the biological value of its proteins exceeds even that of soybeans. The flour can be made into bread, pasta, table oil, margarine and baby food.

Fodder: The fruit-head pulp and bran, which contain 9.4% and 5.7% protein, respectively, can be used in livestock feed. In Malawi, blue monkeys are very fond of the fruit and extract the seed. Leaves are used for fodder in Tanzania. 

T. africana is a suitable source of firewood and charcoal.

Fibre: The wood is suitable for pulp and papermaking. 

Timber: The heartwood is yellow with very narrow pale sapwood; very dense, fairly elastic and flexible, rather heavy, with fine, even structure. It is suitable for furniture, carving, turnery and inlay wood. In Ghana, it is used for furniture and joinery.

Lipids: Analyses of the hexane extract of Treculia seeds indicate that it contains a stearine solid fat fraction, resembling that of palm-kernel oil, and an aleine fraction with a composition similar to that of cottonseed oil. 

Medicine: In Ghana, a root decoction is used as an anthelmintic and febrifuge. The caustic sap of male African breadfruit is applied on carious teeth, a bark decoction is used for cough and whooping cough, and ground bark with oil and other plant parts for swellings. It is also used in the treatment of leprosy and as a laxative. 

Soil improver: The tree is a good source of mulch.

Intercropping: T. africana has been recommended as a promising species for use in home gardens, and for intercropping systems in agroforestry.