This genus is closely related to and rather difficult to distinguish from the genus Ficus.
The trees are monoecious, with unisexual flowers, with both sexes on the same plant. The small, greenish, female flowers grow on short, fleshy spikes. After pollination they grow into a syncarpous fruit, which can become very large. The ovary is superior. The stipulated leaves vary from small and entire (Artocarpus integer) to large and lobed (Artocarpus communis). The cordate leaves of Artocarpus communis end in a long, sharp tip.
Several species in the genus bear edible fruit and are commonly cultivated: Artocarpus communis (Breadfruit), Artocarpus integer (Cempedak), Artocarpus heterophyllus (Jackfruit) and Artocarpus odoratissimus (Marang). In the most recent revision of Artocarpus, the highly variable species Artocarpus communis contains the following three species of breadfruit : Artocarpus altilis, Artocarpus mariannensis and Artocarpus camansi.
The name 'Artocarpus' is derived from the Greek words 'artos' (= bread) and 'karpos' (= fruit). This name was established by Johann Reinhold Forster and J. Georg Adam Forster, the father and son team of botanist aboard the HMS Resolution on James Cook's second voyage.
Breadfruit and jackfruit are cultivated widely in the tropical SE Asia. Other species are cultivated locally for their timber, fruit or edible seeds.
The genus Prainea is closely allied to the subgenus Pseudojaca, and some researchers treat it as a third subgenus of Artocarpus. The following list still follows the traditional line.
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