Brosimum-Alicastrum 02.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Moraceae
Genus: Brosimum
B. alicastrum
Binomial name
Brosimum alicastrum

Alicastrum brownei Kuntze
Brosimum uleanum Mildbr.
Helicostylis bolivarensis Pittier
Piratinera alicastrum (Sw.) Baill.

Breadnut (Brosimum alicastrum), raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy908 kJ (217 kcal)
46.28 g
0.99 g
Saturated0.267 g
Monounsaturated0.126 g
Polyunsaturated0.527 g
5.97 g
Tryptophan0.162 g
Threonine0.232 g
Isoleucine0.338 g
Leucine0.647 g
Lysine0.260 g
Methionine0.035 g
Cystine0.093 g
Phenylalanine0.282 g
Tyrosine0.439 g
Valine0.578 g
Arginine0.549 g
Histidine0.091 g
Alanine0.271 g
Aspartic acid0.659 g
Glutamic acid0.835 g
Glycine0.375 g
Proline0.297 g
Serine0.400 g
Vitamin A equiv.
12 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.055 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.055 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.880 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
1.103 mg
Vitamin B6
0.403 mg
Folate (B9)
66 μg
Vitamin B12
0.00 μg
Vitamin C
27.4 mg
98 mg
1.444 mg
2.09 mg
68 mg
0.178 mg
67 mg
1183 mg
31 mg
1.13 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water45.00 g

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, mojote in Jalisco, chokogou in Haitian Creole and chataigne in Trinidadian Creole. In the Caribbean coast of Colombia it is called guaímaro or guaymaro.[citation needed]

Two subspecies are commonly recognized:


Brosimum alicastrum is a monoecious plant. Birds are responsible for the dispersion of the seeds.[1] A tree can produce 150–180 kg of fruits per year. It stays productive for 120–150 years.[2] The tree can grow up to 45 m (150 ft) in height and up to 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) in diameter.[3] It starts producing flowers and fruits when the tree's trunk reaches 20 m (66 ft) high.[4]

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 basin. Large stands occur in moist lowland tropical forests at 300–2,000 m (980–6,560 ft) elevation (especially 125–800 m)[clarification needed], in humid areas with annual rainfall of 600–2000 mm 600–2,000 mm (24–79 in), and average temperatures of 24 °C (75 °F).[5]

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 for humans, 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" probably arose because the seeds can be ground to produce bread.[6] 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,[7][8] although to what extent has been a matter of some debate among historians and archaeologists: no verified remains or illustrations of the fruit have been found at any Mayan archaeological sites.[citation needed]

Mature breadnut tree
Mature breadnut tree

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.[8] Puleston demonstrated a strong correlation between ancient Maya settlement patterns and the distribution of relic stands of ramon trees.[9]

Other research has downplayed the ramon's significance. In the modern era, it has been marginalized as a source of nutrition and has often been characterized as a famine food.[citation needed]

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.[10] Of the dominant species, it is the only one that is wind-pollinated. It is also found in traditional Maya forest gardens.[11]


A high density of seeds during the seedling[clarification needed] offsets a reduced viability of the young plants and therefore enables a good yield. Seed storage is a common issue in breadnut production. Long storage adversely affects the germination rate, for example after three weeks it decreases by 10%.[12] Refrigeration is not a solution as it risks killing the seeds.[13]

Nutritional and culinary value

The breadnut is high in fiber, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, protein and B vitamins.[7] 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 cultivated for exportation and local consumption as powder, for hot beverages, and bread.[citation needed]

Other uses

Breadnuts being dried in the sun
Breadnuts being dried in the sun

Breadnut leaves are commonly used as forage for livestock during the dry season in Central America. The fruits and seeds are also used to feed all kinds of animals.[3][14]

Carbon farming applications

Brosimum alicastrum can be used for carbon farming as a nut crop or fodder.[15] It is an oxalogene tree. It can therefore undertake a bacterial-fungal endosymbiosis which assists 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.[16] This was first shown by a biogeochemist Eric Verrechia, researcher at University of Lausanne in 2006.[17]

Soil restoration

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[clarification needed] after its plantation. Furthermore, its oxalogenic activity increases the pH and the amount of organic matter in the soil once well implemented[clarification needed] in the agricultural system. This leads to an increased fertility thanks to a buffer effect.[18] Some research projects are currently on-going to develop this crop in its current distribution area.[19]

See also


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ Das, T. (2021, 1 juin). Brosimum Alicastrum. Only Foods. Consulted 14 November 2021, on the website
  3. ^ a b Heuzé V., Thiollet H., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2018. Breadnut (Brosimum alicastrum). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO.
  4. ^ Berg, C. C. (1972). Brosimum alicastrum (No 7).
  5. ^ Melgar in "Utilizacion Integral del Arbol Genero Brosimum" INCAP 1987
  6. ^ Breadnut. (2018). The Merriam-Webster.Com Dictionary. Consulted 14 November 2021, on the website
  7. ^ a b 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
  8. ^ a b 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
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ 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).
  14. ^ Fairchild, David. "The Ramon Tree of Yucatan (Brosimiim alicastrum)" (PDF). Florida State Horticultural Society Proceedings, Volume 58. p. 199.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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).
  17. ^ 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
  18. ^ Brosimum alicastrum Breadnut. Maya nut PFAF Plant Database. (2019). Plants For A Future. Consulted 10 November 2021, at
  19. ^ Forêts Communes. (2021). Le programme –. Consulted 10 November 2021, on the website