Artocarpus odoratissimus (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
Introduction
List of species


1, flowering branch; 2, fruit (syncarp)

Artocarpus odoratissimus Blanco

Protologue: Fl. Filip.: 671 (1837).
Family: Moraceae
Chromosome number: 2n= unknown

Synonyms

  • Artocarpus tarap Becc. (1902),
  • Artocarpus mutabilis Becc. (1902).

Vernacular names

  • Marang (En)
  • Indonesia, Malaysia (Borneo): terap (Malay), pingan (Iban), pi-ien (Bidayuh), keiran (Kelabit)
  • Philippines: marang (Sulu), madang (Lanao), loloi (Tagalog).

Origin and geographic distribution

Although the marang was described from and is better known in the Philippines, its distribution there is limited (Mindoro, Mindanao, Basilan and the Sulu Archipelago) and it was probably introduced from Borneo. In the Philippines the species occurs only cultivated, but in Borneo it is also common in the wild state.

Uses

The large fruit is esteemed for the sweet, juicy, aromatic perianths surrounding the seeds, which can be eaten fresh or used as an ingredient in cakes. The fruit is said to have a finer and more delicate flavour than the jackfruit. The seeds are eaten roasted or boiled; boiled seeds (30 minutes in salty water) have a delicious nutty flavour. Young fruits are also cooked in coconut milk and eaten as a curried vegetable.

Production and international trade

In 1987 the Philippines had 1700 ha under cultivation, with a total production of about 7900 t, valued at about 15 million pesos (US$ 750 000). In Sarawak cultivated marang is one of the most highly esteemed fruits and there is a ready local market for the small quantities supplied.

Properties

The edible portion (i.e. the fleshy perianth) is 24-33% of fresh fruit weight; 100 g edible portion contains: water 65.7-84.2 g, protein 0.8-1.47 g, fat 0.2-0.3 g, carbohydrates 32.4 g, ash 0.5-0.8 g, fibre 0.6-0.77 g, calcium 17 mg, phosphorus 35 mg, iron 2.1 mg and vitamin C 30 mg. Energy value is 265-510 kJ per 100 g.

In a series of fruit samples taken from wild and cultivated trees, fresh weight per seed ranged from less than 0.5 g to more than 1 g; the water content of the seed was 38-44%. Mean number of seeds per fruit varied from 50-147. On a dry weight basis, the seed contains protein 11-15%, fat about 20% and carbohydrates 54-72%.

Description

  • Evergreen tree, up to 25 m tall, 40 cm diameter, sometimes with low buttresses. Twigs 4-10 mm thick with long, yellow to red, spreading hairs and stipule-scar rings. Stipules ovate, 1-8 cm long, yellow to red hairy.
  • Leaves broadly elliptic to obovate, 16-50 cm × 11-28 cm, cuneate at base to slightly decurrent, margin entire or shallowly crenate, apex blunt or shortly acuminate, upper half often 3-lobed; both surfaces roughly hairy, lateral veins 13-15 pairs; petiole 2-3 cm long; juvenile leaves pinnatifid.
  • Inflorescences in leaf axils, solitary; male heads ellipsoid to clavate, 4-11 cm × 2-6 cm; female heads with pubescent peltate bracts mostly shed and simple styles exserted to 1.5 mm.
  • Fruit (syncarp) subglobose, up to 16 cm × 13 cm, green-yellow, densely covered with stiff, hairy processes of about 1 cm length; wall ca. 8 mm thick; flesh (fruiting perianths) white, juicy, fragrant; peduncle 5-14 cm long.
  • Pericarps (including the seeds) ellipsoid, about 12 mm × 8 mm
  • Germination hypogeal.

Growth and development

Seeds germinate in about 4 weeks. Trees become reproductive at an age of 4-6 years. In Sarawak cultivated plants and wild populations were compared; cultivated plants have more lateral veins in the leaves, shorter buds and much larger inflorescences, with twice as many flowers and larger fruits which are 3-6 times as heavy (up to 2.5 kg) as the wild ones. The flower heads are borne on emerging shoots.

In the Philippines the fruiting season is May-July in Luzon and August-December in Mindanao. The few references to flowering and fruiting in Sarawak all indicate that the fruit ripens between October and January. From studies of fruit growth on forest trees in Sarawak it appears that anthesis occurs about 3 weeks after emergence of the inflorescence, when it has a volume of 30 cm3. Stigmas remain receptive for 1-2 weeks after emergence; by then the volume has increased to 100 cm3(wild fruit). In northern Queensland, Australia, the fruit is harvested over a 2-month period with a peak in February, following flowering in October-November.

The trees can become very large with a spreading canopy. The fruits are borne at the end of long flexible branches and ripe fruits are heavy, fragile and difficult to reach for harvest.

Other botanical information

A. odoratissimus can be confused with A. elasticus Reinw. ex Blume (called "tekalong" or also "terap" in Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia). A. elasticus has longer petioles (4-10 cm versus 2-3 cm), cylindrical male inflorescences, fruits covered with short and long rubbery spines, and leaves markedly scabrid above from very short appressed hairs.

Ecology

In Sarawak A. odoratissimus is common in secondary forests up to 1000 m altitude on sandy clay soils. In the Philippines it grows best in regions with abundant and equally distributed rainfall on rich loamy, well-drained soils. It is found in partially shaded locations from sea-level to 800 m elevation.

Agronomy

Marang is propagated from seed. Seeds are extracted from ripe fruit, thoroughly cleaned with water and sown immediately in nurseries on sandy loam soil, since they do not retain their viability very long. Seedlings are transplanted to containers when the first leaves have matured. Since the seeds germinate well, they may also be sown directly into containers. Seedlings grow very fast and are ready for planting when they are about one year old. Plants are set 12-14 m apart in the field and it is best to plant at the onset of the rainy season.

Experiments to propagate marang by marcotting failed to give good results; branches callused in 33-34 days but failed to root. Marang can be budded or grafted on gumihan (A. elasticus) and inarched with breadfruit (A. altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg).

Regular weeding and irrigation during the first 2 or 3 dry seasons ensures good growth. Plants are fertilized with 100-200 g ammonium sulphate after planting and towards the end of the rainy season. Bearing trees are given 0.5-1 kg complete fertilizer per tree twice a year. Pruning is limited to the removal of dead branches.

No serious pests and diseases have been observed, apart from maggots of the oriental fruit fly (Dacus umbrosus) found in the fruits. Modern bait sprays have greatly reduced fruit fly damage on other crops and may also be effective on marang.

Mature fruits are usually harvested by hand with the help of a curved knife attached to the end of a long bamboo pole. Getting at the heavy fruit at the end of slender twigs is hazardous. The delicate fruit really should be caught to break the fall, but most fruit drops on the ground. The fruit is graded and taken to market in bamboo baskets or sacks as soon as possible; the shelf life of the ripe fruit is very short.

Mean yield in the Philippines amounted to 4.6 t/ha in 1987, not very different from other years. In comparison the records of a wild tree in the forest in Sarawak are dismal: the tree failed to flower in 5 out of 8 years and produced only 2 crops during this period.

Genetic resources and breeding

Wide variation in plant and fruit characters has been observed. The fruit of the cultivated marang is much larger than the wild fruit, whereas the leaves and twigs are similar. The cultivated marang might be a tetraploid derivative of a diploid wild ancestor. A primary goal in breeding programmes is to develop shorter, more branched trees which are easier to harvest.

Prospects

As one of the most highly praised fruits in the genus, it is puzzling why marang is not widely grown. Low yield and short shelf life offer only a partial explanation, since these features would not deter most home gardeners. The fruit is mainly eaten fresh; its potential for processing is being studied in the Philippines. Obviously the species should be much better understood before its prospects can be properly assessed.

Literature

  • Brown, W.H., 1954. Useful plants of the Philippines. Republic of the Philippines Department of Agricultural and Natural Resources Technical Bulletin 10. Vol. 1. Bureau of Printing, Manila. pp. 467-469.
  • Coronel, R.E., 1986. Promising fruits of the Philippines. 2nd ed. College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines, Los Baños, College, Laguna. pp. 500-502.
  • Galang, F.G., 1955. Fruit and nut growing in the Philippines. AIA Printing Press, Malabon, Rizal. pp. 300-302.
  • Jarrett, F.M., 1959. Studies in Artocarpus and allied genera. III. A revision of Artocarpus subgenus Artocarpus. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum Harvard University 40: 147-149.
  • 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 South-East Asia. Malayan Nature Journal 39: 1-39.
  • Wester, P.J., 1921. The food plants of the Philippines. Philippine Agricultural Review 14(3): 251.

Sources of illustrations

Original drawing by R.D. Tandang.

Authors

  • F.S. dela Cruz, Jr.