Monday, December 22, 2014

Ulu and The Future

An initiative is underway at the University of Hawaii to promote breadfruit (aka ulu) and expand its use in the islands as well as throughout the US.  By way of an article in the local paper, we recently learned that this fruit--the whole plant, actually--carries with it many properties and uses that make it a serious contender on an economic level.  Not only is the fruit itself gluten free, the sap from the ulu tree is 100% organic latex--a product that sells for $1,000/gallon on the commodities market.  Additionally the flower of this tree contains numerous natural chemical compounds that are far more powerful than those used in the current leading synthetic bug repellent. 
“There is no better combination for natural food security in the world than breadfruit, together with the coconut tree for water.”--Dr. Failautusi Avegalio, University of Hawaii
The wood of the tree is resistant to termites, and it's also capable of surviving rising tides.   Ulu is considered a superfood that's high in protein, low in fat, full of omega-3s, loaded with antioxidants, and overflowing with folate, fiber, and phytonutrients.  It also has the potential to feed the world.  It's a phenomenal fruit.
In ancient Polynesian culture it was custom to bury a baby's placenta and umbilical cord in the ground underneath a breadfruit  tree so that good luck could flow the baby's way.  It's customary in many other cultures to treat the placenta similarly for various other reasons ranging from connecting a child to her/his birthplace to protecting her/him from evil spirits.  We've long been contemplating exactly what we'll do with Noni's placenta, and we'd initially intended to  bury it under a noni tree, naturally. Now we're reconsidering.  Whichever route we choose, either has become more feasible since, during a moment of inspiration over the weekend (they were in our face at the home improvement store begging to be bought, and they were the only ones left), we purchased both a breadfruit and noni tree. 
Apuapua, Samoan Breadfruit Tree
Noni Tree
The noni is coming in!
 (I'll refrain from telling the story of how we got two large plants and a tree home in a small car.  Suffice it to say it was like being in a moving jungle with a baby trying to grab and eat leaves left and right.) 
Right now both of these plants--including the big ulu tree--are housed in our bedroom along with a few other plants that we either purchased or grew from seed.  There's hardly room for any more plants on the balcony/lanai,  but I'm sure we'll continue to add and grow more regardless.  A back yard--one that consists of more than sand and ocean--has got to be in our near future!
Group of plants including breadfruit, noni, and ti leaf, which are three of several "canoe plants" brought to Hawaii by Polynesian voyagers.
Beyond our general appreciation of plants for what they offer aesthetically, spiritually, environmentally, and health wise, all of our plants are being grown and nurtured to be part of Noni's legacy.  Just as much as breadfruit has to offer, we hope that through our entire collection of plants we can give Noni an appreciation of the earth and inspire her to continue on building upon a concept that's certain to have a lasting impact for generations to come.

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