Some Jackfruit Tales – Facts and Truths


Jackfruit bunches hanging on a jack tree

Jackfruit – Kerala’s state symbol of fruit is deeply linked with Kerala culture and tradition. Similar to banana, jackfruit too owns several tales related to Kerala’s culture, social life and hey days of glorious yesterdays. Jackfruit is the most nutritious fruit available in Kerala, and is being imported to many foreign countries. It’s in high demand in many foreign countries, and is used for making a wide range of health drink products. But for Keralities, jackfruit has lost its glorious years. 

There was a time when Kerala people solely depend of jackfruits, and now also its cultural value is not lost yet. It’s placed along with other vegetables and fruits for Vishu Kani. A healthy fruit, with supplements of minerals and vitamins it has several health benefits. Jackfruit is sweet, tasty, has different varieties and its seed too has countless health benefits. People became aware of the advantages of this fruit only when jackfruit festivals are conducted by various stalls and organizations. Malayalis have forgotten this fruit long ago. Through this column, let has have a brief talk about jackfruit, known as ‘Chakka’ in Malayalam.

India is the birth place of jackfruit

Known by the scientific name Artocarpus Heterophyllus, India is the native place of jackfruit and first found in Western Ghats. It belongs to Moraceae family. It’s widely believed that its Malayalam name, ‘Chakka’ is derived from Portuguese word ‘Jaakka’. Due to its sticky nature and stains, the tree got the name, ‘Plavu’ in Malayalam language. Mostly found in tropic regions, Africa, Pakistan, Thailand, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Brazil are other countries where jackfruit is found.

38.4 Crore jackfruits in Kerala as per official records

Jack fruit cut into two equal parts

Almost every part of jackfruit is edible, and is a great resource of potassium, manganese, iron, magnesium, protein, fat, carbohydrate, carotene, ascorbic acid and many more. It’s equivalent to vegetables in nutrition quotient. As per Farm guide records, around 2.5 jack trees are found in Kerala which produces 38.4 crore fruits per season. Only 25% is used, while the rest goes wasted, a loss of more than 125 crore Indian rupees. That shows how Keralities show neglectance towards one of the most nutritious fruits well available across the state during the season.

Eco Friendly Fruit with many advantages

Known as an ecofriendly tree, jack tree has a few more advantages. Like any tree it gives oxygen. In addition to it, it consumes only less amount of water. It never absorbs nutrition available to the plants nearby, and hence even small plants can grow beneath jackfruit tree. Fresh air, food, supply of oxygen, fuel, manure, wood, protection of watersheds etc are a few more benefits. It also gives shelter to many birds, and other forms of life. Its wooden parts are used to make many traditional music instruments.

Among all fruits born on trees, jackfruit is the largest. Yet it has comparatively less amount of calories. As per latest researches conducted at RCC Thiruvananthapuram, lactin separated from jackfruit seed has the ability to identify the possibility of cancer. Jackfruit flesh is effective to resist AIDS, says latest research reports conducted by Montpellier University of France.

Jackfruit flesh Effective for diabetics and many disorders

Jackfruit flesh known as Chakka Chula in local terms have many health benefits and medicinal values. Jackfruit flesh gives you glowing skin and complexion. Both ripened and unripen fruits are used to prepare a wide range of jackfruit dishes, and most of them are tagged under ‘Kerala traditional dishes’. Such dishes are high in demand nowadays, and promoted by various organizations conducting food stalls and festivals during jackfruit season. It protects heart, prevents strokes and gives extra protection to bones as well.

Jackfruit fresh is sweet and yellow in colour

If unripen jackfruit is consumed three times a day on regular basis by diabetic patients, it can reduce diabetic level. Normal people can also eat unripen jackfruits on a regular basis to resist diabetics. Vitamin B6 found in ripened jackfruit safeguards heart. It controls sodium level to bring blood pressure down. Its potassium content too has many health benefits. It protects bones from damages, and also body tissues and nerves.

Advantages of jackfruit seeds and leaves (Chakka Kuru and Plavila)

Its seeds are of high acceptance and used for many health drinks and even used for treating a number of ailments. Jackfruit seeds contain phytonutrients that help to fight cancer. It’s high in proteins enough to substitute lenthils. It also stimulates hair growth. How to substitute maida with jack seeks, such discussions are in pipeline. We can expect such substitutions in distant future.

Eco-friendly spoon made using jackfruit leaves (Plavila) is used to consume kanji and other liquid food since our old days. Its medicinal effects give a quick remedy to ulcers found in mouth and stomach. Charcoal made of leaves can be mixed with coconut oil and applied on wounds. Stalk of jack tree leaves too has many advantages. Stalk boiled in water is a remedy for fever for kids.

Goats can be given jack leaves as food, and its milk improves defense mechanism of human body. Dried leaves give good compost too.

National tree of Bangladesh

Though India is the birthplace of jackfruit tree, it’s given much reputation in India’s neighbouring country, Bangladesh. Well suited to tropical lowlands, jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh. But in terms of production, India ranks first in jackfruit production. It’s the official fruit of Kerala also. Jackfruit, along with mango and banana are regarded as auspicious fruits of Tamil Nadu.

Jack tree resists global warming

In future major battles will be for basic needs like food and water – several studies give such alarm signals. Normal cereals like rice, wheat and maize cannot resist global warming and less availability of water, and it indicates that demand of jackfruit can shoot up in the distant future. Perhaps jackfruit true is the only plant which can fight against global warming, and support human life at least for a while.

Jack fruit can grow in root also

There is one common proverb in Malayalam – Venel Chakka Verilum Kaaykkum, which is almost equivalent to ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’. Actually, it’s true in jackfruit’s case too. Though it’s rare, jackfruits can grow on tree’s root as well. When it grows beneath ground, the soil will slowly rises up and such jackfruits are tastier and give extra medicinal values too. 

How to plant jackfruit saplings?

Tender Jackfruit

In Kerala monsoon month is best to plant jackfruit saplings and it falls on June-July month. No extra manure is needed to grow in Kerala soil, in planted during monsoon season. They grow up to the height of 20 metres, and blossom in the cold months of December-January.

Biggest sapling collection of different varieties is available in Kallar Berliyar Research Centre of Tamil Nadu. 54+ varieties of jack trees are available here. T-Nagar Jack is the popular one. Koozha, Varikka, Muttam Varikka and Singappoor are most common varieties and most recently, a new brand, Sindooram has also been introduced. Grafted saplings of most of these varieties start blossoming at the age of just three months. Normal jackfruit tree takes minimum 5 or 6 years to blossom.

Varieties of jackfruits available in Kerala

Many varieties of jackfruit are locally available across the state. Koozha and varikka are most common types, and varikka is high in demand. Flesh of varikka is stiff, hence favourite of all. Muttam Varikka, Chemparathi Varikka, Singappoor etc are a few variants of most popular varieties of jackfruits. Jackfruits are used both ripen and unripen. Apart from kondattams and chips, avial and payasam are most common jackfruit dishes.  

Image Source: Wikipedia and Pixabay

Also read: Different banana varieties available in Kerala

Go through the gallery to read a few more unique articles on agriculture traditions, farming methods and customs of Keralites. Here is the page link. Click on the images to read. 
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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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2 Responses

  1. har says:

    how does one identify varikka and koozha without cutting the jackfruit ? any external distinguishing marks ? also how does one go about identifying the different varikkas ?

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