Roots and Shoots – ‘Ulu for the Future

The Friends’ new ‘ulu (breadfruit) project responds to the challenge of the pandemic and relies on Hawaiian tradition to promote food security, families across our island, beauty, and a greener Hawai’i. 


‘Ulu shoots are now rising in the Garden as a result of tree-trimming and the Kona rainy season. These shoots are from trees descended from the original ‘ulu brought to Hawai’i on canoes centuries ago. Beginning in mid-August, several hundred will be air-layered and potted for distribution.


All project activities are in partnership with technical expertise from Lili’uokalani Trust, Kipuka Kona & Hilo; staff assistance from Peter Van Dyke, Garden Manager and others from B.P. Bishop Museum; and the essential contributions of Friends volunteers. We will look to supporting groups Hawai’i ‘Ulu Cooperative and Ho’oulu ka ‘Ulu for networking and information assistance.  


The majority of saplings will be distributed by the Trust to families on Big Island. Potted ‘ulu will also be available at the Garden and also for a special ‘ulu event at the Museum in Honolulu in Spring 2021. 

'Ulu shoots Amy Greenwell Garden Hawaii
‘Ulu shoots galore rise in the Garden. (Photo by Maile Melrose)

Our initiative will also include an air-layering workshop, web-based education and promotion, and the donation of ‘ulu to the Hawai’i Food Basket. Relying on research of traditional use and presentation of ‘ulu as well as modern artistic creation, several video vignettes will be produced for the Friends’ website.  


This project is funded in part through our successful proposal to the Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife; and State and Private Forestry, branch of the USDA Forest Service, Region 5. This Kaulunani funding, totaling $7,810, was made possible by an equal value of cash and in-kind matches. We are deeply grateful for a generous gift from Eugene and Meredith Clapp, along with the essential in-kind matches of the partner organizations highlighted above.


We look forward to sharing updates and photos of the people and progress of the ‘ulu project. Our Board is excited that our mission to propagate Hawaiian plants can continue during this pandemic. It is wonderful what can be accomplished with funding, nonprofit collaboration, and steady rainfall!


Note:  Look at the Kaulunani Story Boards, under Education/Outreach for highlights of past work in the Garden funded by them.



Words by Rose Schilt

'Ulu breadfruit Amy Greenwell Garden Hawaii
‘Ulu bears abundant fruit. (Photo by Noa Kekuewa Lincoln)

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