Deepa Dwivedi, Associate Professor at the Department of Applied Plant Science, Ambedkar University, in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India, has sent us this interesting factsheet on barhal (Artocarpus lakoocha), a poorly known tree of the humid sub-Himalayan regions of India with edible fruits of an intense yellow color, and peculiar taste reminiscent of citrus. The genus Artocarpus is well-known for the pantropically distributed breadfruit (A. altilis) and jackfruit (A. heterophyllus), but the genus contains some 50 species, several of which are used for their edible fruits. Here in Malaysia, cempedak (A. integer) is a common sight in supermarkets. Cempedak fruits combine the texture of jackfruit with hints of durian flavour.
Prof Dwivedi describes the food and medicinal uses of barhal, and has identified factors that have possibly constrained the wider use of the species. The tree has comparatively low yields, its fruits are highly perishable and are irregularly shaped, which is said to result in poor market acceptability. We look forward to further research to address how these constraints can be overcome: perhaps through the selection of superior genotypes with better yield and fruit types, or convenience products with better shelf life? Apologies to Prof Dwivedi for the delay in posting her very interesting material!