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Brosimum alicastrum - Sw.

Common Name Breadnut. Maya nut
Family Moraceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats A canopy tree in seasonally flooded or dry limestone woodland[307]. Moist or wet forest, ascending to about 1,000 metres but mostly at 300 metres or less in Guatemala[331].
Range S. America - Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana; C. America - Panama to Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Brosimum alicastrum Breadnut. Maya nut

Brosimum alicastrum Breadnut. Maya nut


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An evergreen, large fruiting foliage tree and member of the great fig family which includes breadfruit and jakfruit.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Brosimum alicastrum is an evergreen Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Alicastrum brownie Kuntze Brosimum bernadetteae Woodson Brosimum columbianum S.F.Blake Brosimum gentlei Lundell Brosimum latifolium Standl. Brosimum terrabanum Pittier Brosimum uleanum Mildbr. Ficus faginea Kunth & C.D.Bouche Helicostylis bolivarensis Pittier Helicostylis latifolia Pittier Helicostylis ojoche K. Schum. ex Pittier Piratinera alicastrum (Sw.) Baill. Urostigma fagineum (Kunth & C.D.Bouche) Miq.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Seed
Edible Uses: Coffee  Drink  Gum  Milk

Seed - raw or cooked[301 ]. The raw seed has some bitterness[335 ], whilst the roasted seed develops a nutty, cacao-like flavour[301 ]. An agreeable and nourishing food with a flavour similar to hazel nuts[63 ]. The seed can also be boiled and mashed like potatoes, or made into juice and marmalade[301 ]. The ground up seeds can be made into a mash to mix with corn when making tortillas[301 ]. When steeped in water, the seeds make a coffee-like beverage[46 , 301 ]. The seed is the size of a small chestnut[63 ]. The seed is produced inside a yellow fruit about 25mm in diameter - each fruit contains one seed[63 ]. The yellow or orange fruit has a sweet, thin edible flesh surrounding the large seed[307 ]. A sweet, agreeable flavour[303 ]. The globose fruit is 15 - 20mm in diameter[369 ]. The milky latex, which flows freely when the trunk is cut, resembles cream and when diluted with water is said to afford a substitute for cow's milk[301 , 303 , 331 ]. The latex is also mixed with chicle[301 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antitussive  Mouthwash

There is a belief in Yucatan that if the seeds are eaten by nursing women the flow of milk is increased[331 ]. The latex is mixed with water, warmed and drunk as a treatment for dry coughs and for itchy sore throat[348 ]. The latex is applied directly on sores in the mouth and other parts of the body for healing[348 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fodder  Furniture  Gum  Latex  Shelterbelt  Wood

Design: An imposing tree with broad, dense, deep green crown and narrow buttresses trunk; good for: Large shade tree. Street Tree. Public open space. Xerophytic. Bee nectar. A good forage plant for domestic animals. Leaves and branches cut for fodder for horses and mules. Often the only fodder available during the dry season. Agroforestry Uses: The tree provides good shade and reduces the impact of strong winds[303]. Other Uses: A latex is obtained from the stems. It is sometimes mixed with chicle to make chewing gum[377]. The heartwood is a yellowish to dark brown, tinged with red around knots and other defects; the thick band of sapwood is yellowish to nearly white. The texture is fine to medium; grain is straight to irregular and shallowly interlocked; luster is low; without distinctive odour or taste. The wood is hard, heavy, very strong, tough, not very durable, being particularly vulnerable to insect attack. Because of its high density and silica content, the wood requires appropriate tools, when it becomes easy to moderately difficult to work, taking a good polish. It is used for general construction,carpentry, flooring, furniture, cabinet making etc[46, 307, 316, 333, 551].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Coppice  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Fodder: Bank  Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Balanced carb  Staple Crop: Protein

The plant grows naturally lowland areas of hot, humid, tropical climates with a seasonal dry period[335 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 25c, but can tolerate 12 - 35c[418 ]. When established, it can tolerate occasional, short-lived, light frosts[377 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 4,000mm, but tolerates 500 - 5,000mm[418 ]. Of easy culture, it grows best in a humus-rich, fertile, moisture-retentive soil in full sun or light shade[307 ]. Very tolerant of shallow, calcareous soils[307 ]. Established plants are very drought tolerant and also tolerate seasonal flooding[307 ]. Plants can escape from cultivation and become weedy in some tropical areas[377 ]. Trees can commence producing fruit in 5 - 6 years from seed[335 ]. Plants flower intermittently throughout the year[307 ] and can produce two or three harvests[335 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Materials, chemicals and energy include bioplastics, rubber, biomass products gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, butane, propane, biogas. Plants are usually resprouting plants and saps.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Balanced carb  (0-15 percent protein, 0-15 percent oil, with at least one over 5 percent). The carbohydrates are from either starch or sugar. Annuals include maize, wheat, rice, and potato. Perennials include chestnuts, carob, perennial fruits, nuts, cereals, pseudocereals, woody pods, and acorns.
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe[303 ]. Greenwood cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Bread nut, Snakewood, Ramon, Ojoche, Ujushte, Ramon tree, Breadnut, Janita, Muiratinga, Guamaro, Berba, Cacique, Nuez de pan

Asia, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Caribbean, Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guiana, Guianas, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, North America, Pacific, Panama, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Peru, South America*, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, Venezuela, West Indies.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Plants can escape from cultivation and become weedy in some tropical areas [377]

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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