Alicastrum brownei Kuntze
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||908 kJ (217 kcal)|
|Aspartic acid||0.659 g|
|Glutamic acid||0.835 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. |
Source: USDA FoodData Central
Brosimum alicastrum, commonly known as the breadnut or ramon, is a tree species in the family Moraceae of flowering plants, whose other genera include figs and mulberries. The plant is known by a range of names in indigenous Mesoamerican and other languages, including: ojoche, ojite, ojushte, ujushte, ujuxte, capomo, mojo, ox, iximche, masica in Honduras, uje in the state of Michoacan Mexico, and mojote in Jalisco, or also chokogou in Haitian Creole.
Two subspecies are commonly recognized:
- B. a. alicastrum
- B. a. bolivarense (Pittier) C.C.Berg
Brosimum alicastrum is a monoecious plant. Birds are responsible for the dispersion of the seeds . A tree can produce 150-180 kg of fruits per year. It stays productive for 120-150 years . The tree can grow up to 45 m (130 ft) in height and up to 1.5 m in diameter.. It starts producing flowers and fruits when the tree’s trunk reaches 20 meters high .
Distribution and habitat
This tree is found on the west coast of central Mexico and in southern Mexico (Yucatán, Campeche), Guatemala, El Salvador, the Caribbean, and the Amazon. Large stands occur in moist lowland tropical forests at 300–2000 m elevation (especially 125–800 m), in humid areas with rainfall of 600–2000 mm, and average temperatures of 24 °C (75 °F).
History and culture
The breadnut fruit disperses on the ground at different times throughout its range. It has a large seed covered by a thin, citrus-flavored, orange-colored skin favored by a number of forest creatures. More importantly, the large seed which is enveloped by the tasty skin is an edible ‘nut’ that can be boiled or dried and ground into a meal for porridge or flatbread. The name “breadnut” comes probably from the fact that the seeds can be ground to produce bread . Breadnut is nutritious and has value as a food source, and may have formed a part of the diet of the pre-Columbian Maya of the lowlands region in Mesoamerica, although to what extent has been a matter of some debate among historians and archaeologists and no verified remains or illustrations of the fruit have been found at any Mayan archaeological sites.
It was planted by the Maya civilization 2000 years ago and it has been claimed in several publications by Dennis E. Puleston to have been a staple food in the Maya diet. Puleston demonstrated a strong correlation between ancient Maya settlement patterns and the distribution of relic stands of ramon trees.
The tree lends its name to the Maya archaeological sites of Iximché and Topoxte, both in Guatemala and Tamuin (reflecting the Maya origin of the Huastec peoples). It is one of the 20 dominant species of the Maya forest. Of the dominant species, it is the only one that is wind-pollinated. It is also found in traditional Maya forest gardens.
A high density of seeds during the seedling offsets a reduced viability of the young plants and therefore enables a good yield. Seed storage is a common issue in breadnut production. The length of the storage has a negative impact on the germination rate, for example after three weeks it decreases by 10% . Refrigeration is not a solution as it risks killing the seeds .
Nutritional and culinary value
The breadnut is high in fiber, calcium, potassium, folate, iron, zinc, protein and B vitamins. It has a low glycemic index (<50) and is very high in antioxidants. The fresh seeds can be cooked and eaten or can be set out to dry in the sun and eaten later. Stewed, the nut tastes like mashed potato; roasted, it tastes like chocolate or coffee. It can be prepared in numerous other dishes. In Petén, Guatemala, the breadnut is being cultivated for exportation and local consumption as powder, for hot beverages, and bread.
Carbon farming applications
Brosimum alicastrum can be used for carbon farming as a nut crop or fodder. Brosimum alicastrum is an oxalogene tree. It can therefore undertake a bacterial-fungal endosymbiosis in order to process the oxalate-carbonate pathway (OCP) and especially the chemical reaction of biomineralization, and in this case biocalcification (to produce CaCO3 from CO2 and to store it in the soils). This tree would therefore act as a carbon sink, while providing resources for both humans and animals . This has first been shown by a biogeochemist Eric Verrechia, researcher at University of Lausanne in 2006 .
Brosimum alicastrum can be used to restore damaged soils. It can prevent erosion and act as a wind barrier. The tree tolerates poor, damaged, dried or salty soils and it requires a few inputs after its plantation. Furthermore, its oxalogenic activity increases the pH and the amount of organic matter in the soil once well implemented in the agricultural system. This leads to an increased fertility thanks to a buffer effect . Some research projects are currently on-going to develop this crop in its current distribution area .
- Artocarpus camansi, another plant also commonly known as "breadnut"
- Orwa, C.; Mutua, A.; Kindt, R.; Jamnadass, R.; Anthony, S., 2009. Agroforestree Database: a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0. World Agroforestry Centre, Kenya
- Das, T. (2021, 1 juin). Brosimum Alicastrum. Only Foods. Consulted the 14th of November 2021, on the website http://www.onlyfoods.net/brosimum-alicastrum.html
- Heuzé V., Thiollet H., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2018. Breadnut (Brosimum alicastrum). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/175
- Berg, C. C. (1972). Brosimum alicastrum (No 7). http://www.conabio.gob.mx/conocimiento/info_especies/arboles/doctos/47-morac1m.pdf
- Melgar in "Utilizacion Integral del Arbol Genero Brosimum" INCAP 1987
- Breadnut. (2018). The Merriam-Webster.Com Dictionary. Consulted the 14th of November 2021, on the website https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/breadnut
- Flannery, Kent; Puleston, Dennis E. (1982), "The Role of Ramon in Maya Subsistence", Maya Subsistence: Studies in Memory of Dennis E. Puleston, Academic Press, pp. 353-366
- Harrison, Peter D.; Turner, B. L.; Puleston, Dennis E. (1978), "Terracing, Raised Fields, and Tree Cropping in the Maya Lowlands: A New Perspective on the Geography of Power", Pre-Hispanic Maya Agriculture, University of New Mexico Press, pp. 225-245
- Stavrakis-Puleston, Olga (2015). Settlement and Subsistence in Tikal, The assembled work of Dennis E. Puleston (Field research 1961–1972). Oxford: British Archaeological Reports. ISBN 978-1-4073-1419-8.
- Campbell, D. G., A. Ford, et al. "The Feral Forests of the Eastern Petén" (2006), Time and Complexity in the Neotropical Lowlands New York, Columbia University Press: 21-55.
- Ford, A. "Dominant Plants of the Maya Forest and Gardens of El Pilar: Implications for Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions Archived November 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine" (2008), Journal of Ethnobiology 28(2): 179-199.
- R. T. MORIKAWA, M. A. GOLD & D. O. LANTAGNE (1995) EFFECTS OF TIMING OF SEED COLLECTION AND METHOD OF ESTABLISHMENT ON BROSIMUM ALICASTRUM, S.W., REPRODUCTION, International Tree Crops Journal, 8:1, 49-59, DOI: 10.1080/01435698.1995.9752931
- Gillespie, A., Bocanegra-Ferguson, D. & Jimenez-Osornio, J. The propagation of Ramón (Brosimum alicastrum Sw.; Moraceae) in Mayan homegardens of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. New Forests 27, 25–38 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025081224852
- Fairchild, David. "The Ramon Tree of Yucatan (Brosimiim alicastrum)" (PDF). Florida State Horticultural Society Proceedings, Volume 58. p. 199.
- Toensmeier, Eric (2016). The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security. Chelsea Green Publishing. p. 180. ISBN 978-1-60358-571-2.
- Rowley, M.C., Estrada-Medina, H., Tzec-Gamboa, M. et al. Moving carbon between spheres, the potential oxalate-carbonate pathway of Brosimum alicastrum Sw.; Moraceae. Plant Soil 412, 465–479 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-016-3135-3
- Verrecchia EP, Braissant O, Cailleau G (2006) The oxalate–carbonate pathway in soil carbon storage: the role of fungi and oxalotrophic bacteria. Cambridge University Press
- Brosimum alicastrum Breadnut. Maya nut PFAF Plant Database. (2019). Plants For A Future. Consulté le 10 novembre 2021, à l’adresse https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Brosimum+alicastrum
- Forêts Communes. (2021). Le programme –. Consulted the 10th November 2021, on the website https://biomimicry.eu/forets/le-programme/
- Media related to Brosimum alicastrum at Wikimedia Commons
- Data related to Brosimum alicastrum at Wikispecies
- Maya Nut Institute
- The El Pilar Forest Garden Network
- Maya Forest Garden, Dominant Plant Species of the Maya Forest
- Crop of the Week: Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum, Moraceae)