Artocarpus integer (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

1, flowering branch; 2, branch with fruit (syncarp)

Artocarpus integer (Thunb.) Merr.

Protologue: Interpr. Rumph. Herb. Amb.: 190 (1917), non sensu Merrill.
Family: Moraceae
Chromosome number: 2n= 56


  • Artocarpus integrifolia L.f. (1781, nomen illegitimum),
  • Artocarpus polyphema Persoon (1807, nomen illegitimum),
  • Artocarpus champeden (Lour.) Stokes (1812).

Vernacular names

  • Chempedak (En)
  • Indonesia: chempedak, campedak (Malay), baroh (Lingga)
  • Malaysia: chempedak (cultivated), bankong (wild), baroh (Johor)
  • Burma: sonekadat
  • Thailand: champada.

Origin and geographic distribution

The chempedak is widely distributed in Burma (Tenasserim), Peninsular Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, the Lingga Archipelago, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, the Moluccas and Irian Jaya. It is also cultivated in these areas as well as in western Java.


The fleshy perianths which surround the seeds are eaten fresh or cooked. The flesh, typically yellow or orange, sometimes white to pinkish, is soft and mushy with a strong and very characteristic odour. The flavour is sweet, resembling durian and mango, and is considered by some to be superior to that of the jackfruit. In Malaysia 2-3 perianth-balls are pressed together, dipped in a mixture of rice-flour, sugar, milk and water, fried in oil for 10 minutes, and eaten as a delicacy. The seeds are eaten roasted or boiled (in salty water for 30 minutes) and have a nutty flavour. Young fruits are cooked in coconut milk and eaten as a curried vegetable or in soup. Young leaves are said to be used as a vegetable.

The dark yellow to brown wood is strong and durable and used for building construction, furniture and boats. The bark can be used to make rope and the latex for the preparation of lime.

Production and international trade

No production figures are available, but in its season the fruit is prominent and very popular in local markets. In Peninsular Malaysia the fruit price is based on weight and specialized chempedak sellers in Kuala Lumpur make a good income, the grower getting about MYR 1 per kg in 1981. In an economic analysis in Peninsular Malaysia the value of the crop on a per ha basis was estimated at MYR 7000 per ha, slightly lower than for durian and nearly four times as much as for pineapple. In Sarawak women carry 20-30 kg loads to markets; prices vary greatly depending on appearance of the fruit (MYR 1.5-4 for a 2 kg fruit in 1981).

Chempedak is grown in home gardens and sometimes in mixed orchards. The chempedak area in Malaysia in 1987 was 6130 ha sole crop equivalent (118 trees/ha). Another source estimated that the area in Peninsular Malaysia was nearly 1800 ha, more than half the trees being in Kedah State.


Total fruit weight varies from 600-3500 g. The total edible portion (perianths + seeds) is 25-50% of fresh fruit weight. The total weight of all perianths of a fresh fruit varies from 100-1200 g. The composition of the fruit flesh on dry weight basis per 100 g edible portion is approximately: protein 3.5-7 g, fat 0.5-2 g, carbohydrates 84-87 g, fibre 5-6 g and ash 2-4 g. Water content (fresh weight basis) is 58-85%.

The composition of the seeds, also based on dry weight, is approximately: protein 10-13%, fat 0.5-1.5%, carbohydrates 77-81%, fibre 4-6% and ash 3-4%. Water content (fresh) is 46-78%. The number of seeds per fruit varies from 14-131, total seed weight per fruit from 65-880 g, weight per seed from 1-12 g.

The wood yields a yellow dye. The bark is rich in tannin, ca. 8% of its dry weight.


  • Evergreen monoecious tree, up to 20 m tall, seldom buttressed, bark grey-brown, bumps on trunk and main limbs where leafy twigs are produced which bear the fruits. Twigs, stipules and leaves with brown wiry hairs to 3 mm long; twigs 2.5-4 mm thick, with annulate stipular scars. Stipules ovate, up to 9 cm long.
  • Leaves obovate to elliptic, 5-25 cm × 2.5-12 cm, base cuneate to rounded, margin entire, apex acuminate; lateral veins 6-10 pairs, curving forward; petiole 1-3 cm long.
  • Inflorescences solitary, axillary, cauliflorous or ramiflorous on short leafy shoots; male heads cylindrical, 3-5.5 cm × 1 cm, whitish-yellow, peduncle 3-6 cm long; female heads with simple filiform styles, exserted to 1.5 mm.
  • Fruit a syncarp, cylindrical to almost globose, 20-35 cm × 10-15 cm, yellowish to brownish to orange-green, smelling strongly at maturity, smooth or covered by closely set, firm, obtuse prickles or processes of 2-4 mm length; peduncle 5-9 cm long, wall ca. 1 cm thick; fruiting perianths numerous, soft, fleshy, becoming detached from wall and core.
  • Pericarps (including the seeds) ellipsoid to oblong, ca. 3 cm × 2 cm, cotyledons unequal, thick and fleshy.
  • Germination is epigeal.

Growth and development

Seed viability lasts several weeks. The first few nodes of the seedling often do not bear leaves. Young trees develop a deep taproot early. In primary forests the growth is slow, similar to other Artocarpus species. The shoots apparently grow continuously; there are no signs of flushing. Seedlings start bearing after 3-6 years, clonal trees at 2-4 years of age. The number of flowers per syncarp varies from 1400-5000, seed set varies from 0.8-7%. Whereas the female flower heads are only found on cauliflorous shoots, most male heads are formed on shoots in the periphery of the canopy. This may facilitate pollination by wind, although the pollen is sticky. Insects visit the scented male inflorescences, not the female ones which lack nectar. The growth of the fruits is most rapid during the first weeks following stigma emergence. Stigmas remain receptive for 1-2 weeks. Maturation time is 3-6 months, depending on genotype and climate.

Even though the chempedak is restricted to rather equable climates, it is more seasonal than the jackfruit. Some flowers may be found at any time of the year, but in Peninsular Malaysia bloom tends to be concentrated around the months of February to April and/or August to October; usually the main harvest falls between June and August. In western Java the tree normally flowers in July-August, the fruit ripening between September and December. In Sarawak fruit also ripens towards the end of the year in most years. In North Queensland, Australia, chempedak flowers mainly in September-October and the fruit ripens in February-May.

Other botanical information

In Peninsular Malaysia, a distinction between wild trees ("bankong") and cultivated trees ("chempedak") has been made; bankong is classified as var. silvestris Corner, chempedak as var. integer. The wild trees would be glabrous to variously hairy (chempedak always hairy), leaves withering green to yellowish (chempedak rich ochre to orange), syncarps slightly smaller without any odour and perianths without any taste. Studies in Sarawak have shown that chempedak grows truly wild in Borneo and that no consistent differences exist, either in morphology or composition of the fruit, between the wild and cultivated trees. The implication is that the cultivated chempedak is not derived from the bankong; the latter may just be an isolated form.

In Sarawak, people distinguish and prefer "Brunei chempedak", which usually has larger fruit and thicker and darker orange flesh. In Malaysia a number of selections have been cloned; among the resulting cultivars "CH29" shows promise because of its attractive orange flesh; "CH26" ("Paya Jaras"), "CH27" and "CH28" are high-yielding cvs.

Sometimes jackfruit and chempedak are confused. Sporadically hybrids between the two occur, called "nangka-chempedak" in Malaysia; one of these has been cloned and named "CH/NA". In general, chempedak has smaller and narrower fruits with thinner rind, more juicy flesh, and is darker yellow when ripe; young plants bear scattered, reddish, wiry hairs on leaves and twigs and mature plants usually are smaller than the jackfruit trees.


Chempedak is a common tree in secondary forests and locally abundant in primary lowland rain forest in its area of natural occurrence. It is a long-lived sub-canopy tree. It grows up to 500(-1300) m altitude, often on wet hillsides. It is strictly tropical and always restricted to regions without a distinct dry season. The tree thrives on fertile well-drained soils, but prefers a fairly high water table (0.5-2 m); it can survive periodic flooding, even with acid swamp water (Sumatra: Palembang, Palopo).


The tree is usually grown from seed derived from nearby trees with desirable qualities. It can be propagated vegetatively by budding or suckle-grafting on seedling rootstocks of chempedak or other Artocarpus species, including jackfruit. The rootstock should be 8-11 months old at the time of budding, which may be done at any time of the year. Young trees develop a deep taproot early, therefore both seedlings and budlings are usually grown in containers. Light shade is essential both in the nursery and after the trees have been planted out. Spacing in orchards is 12-14 m.

Fruits are attacked by fruit flies but can easily be protected by bagging; the bark sometimes suffers from boring beetles. Bacterial dieback caused by Erwinia carotovora is by far the most serious disease. Initially it affects the growing shoots, but it spreads downwards and eventually kills the tree. In Malaysia chemicals, including trunk injection with antibiotics, are being tested to control the disease.

Harvesting is simple because the fruits are produced on the trunk and the main branches. In Peninsular Malaysia the fruit is often bagged on the tree or a loose basket of palm leaves is woven around fruits which are almost fully grown, resulting in a distinctive lattice pattern on the ripe fruit. The function of this basket is not clear; it is said that the bags protect against rodents, bats and fruit flies and attract ants which keep other insects (e.g. wasps) away. There are no yield records, but chempedak is considered a prolific bearer and yields may be similar to those of jackfruit trees.

Genetic resources and breeding

Collection of germplasm has been started in the chempedak-growing countries. In Selangor, Malaysia, selections were made long ago and planting material of the more promising cultivars is available.


If the durian is the most characteristic fruit of South-East Asia, chempedak is a good second. Both the smell and the taste of the fruit are rather overwhelming and for the uninitiated it is easier to appreciate dishes made of the seeds.

The crop is restricted to the wetter parts of South-East Asia but in those parts it is generally more popular than the jackfruit. Yet there is not a single report of chempedak being grown outside South-East Asia, except Australia, whereas the jackfruit has spread all over the tropics.

To tap the potential of the chempedak more attention to clonal material and the fickle seasonality of the crop appear to be the first steps. A study of tree phenology (growth pattern, leaf change, periods of bloom and fruiting, etc.) e.g. of some Malaysian cultivars, could clarify the behaviour of the cultivars in relation to seasonal weather. At the same time more information on fruitfulness and fruit quality can be gathered. Once the seasonality of a cultivar is better understood, ways of regulating the harvest time may be explored.


  • Corner, E.J.H., 1988. Wayside trees of Malaysia. 3rd ed. Vol. 2. Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. pp. 518-519, plate 157.
  • Jarrett, F.M., 1959. Studies in Artocarpus and related genera, III. A revision of Artocarpus subgenus Artocarpus. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University 40: 329-334.
  • Koorders, S.H. & Valeton, Th., 1906. Bijdrage No. 11 tot de kennis der boomsoorten op Java [Contribution No 11 to the study of tree species on Java]. pp. 21-23.
  • Ochse, J.J., Soule, M.J., Dijkman, M.J. & Wehlburg, C., 1961. Tropical and subtropical agriculture. Vol. 1. Macmillan Company, New York. pp. 649-652, fig. 113.
  • Primack, R.B., 1985. Comparative studies of fruits in wild and cultivated trees of chempedak (Artocarpus integer) and terap (Artocarpus odoratissimus) in Sarawak, East Malaysia, with additional information on the reproductive biology of the Moraceae in Southeast Asia. Malayan Nature Journal 39: 1-39.
  • Soepadmo, E., 1979. Genetic resources of Malaysian fruit trees. Malaysia applied Biology 8(1): 33-42.

Sources of illustrations

Sastrapradja, S. (Editor), 1977. Fruits [Buah buahan]. Centre for Research & Development in Biology, Bogor. LBN8, SDE 41. p. 28 (flowering branch); Ochse, J.J., 1927. Indische vruchten. Volkslectuur, Weltevreden. p. 128, Fig. 62 (branch with fruit). Redrawn and adapted by P. Verheij Hayes.


  • P.C.M. Jansen