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THE BREAD-FRUIT TREE.
“ The bread-tree, which without the ploughshare yields
The unreaped harvest of unfurrow'd fields,
THERE are two kinds of the Bread-fruit Tree in Ceylon : that, called the Jack-tree, grows after the manner of a chesnut tree, shooting forth branches in all directions, and often exceeding the bulk and height of the largest oak. The leaves are much used for feeding sheep, and are eaten by them with great relish. The fruit is first borne on the branches, then on the trunk, and finally on the roots. It is of an oval shape, of the size of a man's body, two feet in length and the same in circumference, and fifty pounds in weight. It is covered with a thick green coat, marked like the skin of the pine-apple. Within, it contains a great number of seeds, each enclosed in a fleshy substance of the size and form of a green fig. This substance is of a yellow colour, of a rich and delicious taste, and forms a great article of food in Ceylon. The seed is twice the size of an almond. It is farinaceous like the chesnut, and when roasted tastes like the potato.
As the fruit ripens, the natives cover it with mats, worked into the form of bags, to preserve it from the attacks of birds. In its unripe state they eat the whole, after the external coat is taken off, cutting it down in slices like the stock of cabbages. Many Europeans are prejudiced against this fruit, and do not eat it on account of a nauseous smell like carrion which it emits on its first being opened: none of this remains when it is prepared for table.
The other species, (Artocarpus incisa,) having fruit without seeds, is the real Bread-fruit, so much valued in Otaheite; but in Ceylon the culture is little attended to, not being such a favourite as the Jack-tree.
It is about the size of a common oak, has a great number of branches spreading almost horizontally, and is rendered extremely elegant by the picturesque appearance of the leaves. These are scattered all over it, but not crowded one on another; they are placed at such distances that their form is distinctly seen. They are a foot and a half in length, and eleven inches wide, deeply indented like those of the vine. The fruit grows from twigs, which rise perpendicularly from the horizontal branches. It is of an oval shape, from nine to eleven inches long, and nearly as much in circumference, covered with a pale green coat similar to that of the Jack. It contains no seeds, but has a fibrous spongy core about an inch in diameter, running lengthwise through it. The rest of the fruit is as solid as a turnip. When simply boiled without any seasoning, it is tasteless and insipid. In the usual method of cooking it for the English table, it is first boiled, then toasted; the outer coat being taken off, a thick slice is cut all round, which is mashed with a large proportion of butter. It tastes like potatoes, but not so good.