St. John Flora: How Breadfruit Arrived in the Caribbean

Breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis

How Breadfruit Arrived in the Caribbean
British planters in the Caribbean during the slave driven sugar days were interested in finding low-cost high-energy foods to feed their slaves. When captain James Cook sailed to Tahiti in 1769 on the famous ship “Endeavour” one of his officers, Sir Joseph Banks, realized that breadfruit which turns out to be one of the highest-yielding food plants in the world, would serve this purpose well.

In 1887, Banks had Captain William Bligh commissioned to sail to Tahiti on the ship “Bounty” and bring breadfruit to the Caribbean. Bligh collected a thousand small potted trees for the voyage. It was a voyage that never took place, however, as the crew mutinied and cast off Captain Bligh and his loyal officers in a longboat on the high seas. Bligh and company miraculously survived and landed on East Timor some 11,000 miles away in 1789.

In 1791, Bligh made a second attempt to bring breadfruit to the Caribbean and this time he was successful delivering breadfruit slips to planters on St. Vincent and Jamaica.

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