When my husband and I were hanging out in Hawaii during our honeymoon, we visited Kauai’s gorgeous botanical gardens where we first got to try breadfruit – one of nature’s strangest creations. It looks like a massive prickly melon, and when a couple of grownups hold two of them up in front of their chests, they turn into children faster than you can say “gazangas”.
Breadfruit, or Artocarpus altilis, is a type of flowering tree originating in the South Pacific. It was introduced to Hawaii by European navigators that brought the species from Polynesia to the Caribbean in the 18th century – and the rest, as they say, is history. Staying true to its name, breadfruit tastes a lot like potatoes when eaten raw, and fresh bread after its cooked, which is nice since a lot of fruit have terrible names that don’t tell you anything about how they taste.
Part of its overall weirdness has to do with its pollination system; male and female flowers grow on the same tree making breadfruit reproduction an asexual affair. Male flowers emerge first with female flowers following accordingly – they cross-pollinate, and beautiful breadfruit offspring are brought about by storks and neatly planted in nicely arranged rows. I kid you not, sort of.
Another interesting thing about breadfruit is that latex can be yielded from all of the tree’s parts – leaves included. If you have stuff that needs caulking, the latex for it comes from this strange yet wonderful plant. Anyway, you can read a lot more about it here, as it’s got a million different uses ranging from medicine to construction. You totally should discover the awesomeness of breadfruit.
Information source: National Tropical Botanical Garden
Written by: Liz Belilovskaya
Photo: Hawaii, 3 years ago.