Asia-Pacific Digital Library Kapiolani Community College
Asia-Pacific Digital Library Asia-Pacific Digital Library Asia-Pacific Digital Library Asia-Pacific Digital Library
Asia-Pacific Digital Library
Asia-Pacific Digital Library Asia-Pacific Digital Library

Asia-Pacific Digital Library


Other Uses




Ulu - Breadfruit

English name:

Family name:
Scientific name:
Artocarpus altilis
Introduced by:
Polynesian introduction
See Also...



Ulu grows best in hot, moist places throughout Tropical Asia and Polynesia, especially abundant in the Marquesas. Fertile loam soil with good drainage is best for `ulu


Leaves: The breadfruit is considered to be the most beautiful tree with symmetrical shape and wonderfully large leathery leaves. The leaves may be as long as 1-3 feet, cut into several blunt lobes.
Male and female flowers are borne on separate trees. male flowers are stiff, club shaped spike 6-12 inches long, while the female flowers are round or oblong green head.
Fruit: The fruits are brownish when ripe, about 10 pounds, with tough, warty skin. Pulp is sweet and mealy and fibrous. New plants can grow from cuttings or from root sprouts.



The fruit serves as a carbohydrate food source and the wood has many uses as well. Although it is not a staple food in Hawaii it is the staple food in Marquesas and is eaten throughout Polynesia.

The `ulu (breadfruit) held a special place in the hearts of the Hawaiians. This is best explained by the myth of its origin which claims that during a time of famine Ku, the god of building and war, turned into an `ulu tree so his wife and children would not starve. Being that it is a kinolau (body form) of Ku it is kapu (forbidden) to women. Thus `ulu served mainly as a famine food in Hawai'i.

The `ulu tree served many important functions aside from a source of food. The Hawaiians used the wood for canoes (ocean vessels), the trunks were hollowed out to make drums and short surfboards, and the sap was used for caulking and to catch birds. The fibers were sometimes used to make an inferior kapa (bark cloth) and the male inflorescence provided a dye that ranged in color from yellow to tan to brown, depending on its maturity. The breadfruit design is popular for the Hawaiian quilts.

In Samoa the fruit is preserved by burying when the crop is great. In Marquesas each child at birth, is given a tree, because they believe that 1 or 2 trees will support a person for life. In 1792 Bligh's expedition brought 1200 `ulu trees from Tahiti to Jamaica, where it spread to the Carribean. In Tahiti, the `ulu was a gift of a loving father to his family during famine times. The father grew as an `ulu tree that fed his hungry family.


Asia-Pacific Digital Library Asia-Pacific Digital Library

Home | Fiber | Food | Medicinal | Other Uses | Links


Back to Top

Kapi'olani Community College - © 1999, 2000. All Rights Reserved.
Content Manager: Nelda K. Quensell -
Web Manager: KapCC Library -
Last Modified: 14-Dec-2010 13:23 HST