General Information
NameBreadnut tree seed
Scientific NameBrosimum alicastrum
DescriptionBrosimum alicastrum, the breadnut or Maya nut, is a Brosimum tree species under the Moraceae family of flowering plants, whose other genera include fig and mulberries The plant is known by a range of names in indigenous Mesoamerican and other languages, including but not limited to: ramon,ojoche, ojite, ojushte, ujushte, ujuxte, capomo, mojo, ox, iximche, masica in Honduras, uje in Michoacan, and mojote in Jalisco. Two subspecies are commonly recognized: Brosimum alicastrum ssp. alicastrum Brosimum alicastrum ssp. bolivarense Distribution and habitat: The west coast of central Mexico, southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, the Caribbean, and the Amazon. Large stands in moist lowland tropical forests 300–2000 m elevation (especially 125–800 m), in humid areas where rainfall of 600–2000 mm, and average temperature 24 C / 75 F. 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 important, 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. Breadnut is nutritious and has value as a food source, and 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 Maya historians and archaeologists. It was planted by the Maya civilization two thousand years ago and it has been claimed in several articles by Dennis E. Puleston to have been a staple food in the Maya diet, although other research has downplayed its significance. In the modern era it has been marginalized as a source of nutrition and has often been characterized as a famine food. The breadnut is extremely high in fiber, calcium, potassium, folic acid, 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 to roast and eaten later. Stewed the nut tastes like mashed potato, roasted it tastes like chocolate or coffee and 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. The tree can reach up to 45 meters (130 feet). The tree lends its name to the Maya archaeological sites of Iximché and Topoxte, both in Guatemala and also of Tamuin (reflecting the Maya origin of the Huastec peoples). It is one of the twenty 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.
Primary IDFOOD00310
GroupHerbs and Spices
Sub-GroupOther seeds
ITIS ID19075
Wikipedia IDBrosimum alicastrum
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Content Reference— Duke, James. 'Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. United States Department of Agriculture.' Agricultural Research Service, Accessed April 27 (2004).
— U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2008. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page.