Jackfruit is a compound fruit with numerous individual flowers fused into one fruit. A typical jackfruit will contain 30-50 flesh fruit bulbs surrounding a large starchy seed with a brown seed coat. The fruit bulbs are separated by unfertilised fleshy segments known as “rags”. Jackfruit seeds can be boiled and mashed or roasted or eaten like nuts.
Jackfruit is indigenous to south west India, but has naturalised in Malaysia, south east Asia and east Africa over centuries of human movement about the tropics and is now found in most tropical lowland regions of the world. In Australia it grows in tropical Queensland and in the top of the Northern Territory.
Jackfruit can be a useful addition to an exotic tropical fruit business due to its ability to withstand some winds, making it a potential windbreak for other, more vulnerable fruit trees.
Jackfruit is a major cultivated fruit throughout Asia and demand is considered to be rising in Australia, particularly as a meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans.
Jack fruit was introduced into Australia in the 1800s as a garden plant, but different varieties better suited to commercial production were introduced in the 1960s and 70s. The industry is regarded as a developing industry and its interests are represented by the Rare Fruits Association and the Sub-tropical Fruit Club of Queensland.
Facts and figures
- Jackfruit are the largest tree-grown fruit in the world
- Jackfruit is an exotic tropical fruit, which is grown in north Queensland and around Darwin in the Northern Territory
- It has a range of uses, including fresh, sweet and savoury dishes
- As jackfruit can tolerate some wind, they are considered a useful windbreak for other exotic tropical fruit trees
- Because jackfruit are very heavy, transport costs from northern growing areas to southern markets present a marketing challenge
There is strong demand for Australian grown jackfruit and all fruit is consumed domestically.
While the importation of fresh jackfruit into Australia is not permitted for biosecurity reasons, approximately two tonnes of processed jackfruit from Thailand was imported in 2011–12.