A Breadfruit Tree for the North Garden

We have a new little breadfruit tree growing in one of the behind the scenes greenhouses. But it is not just any breadfruit tree—it has a great story!In December 2012, a Collections Gardener read an article from the National TropicalBotanical Garden in Hawaii. The article, titled “Samoa benefits from Hawaii Garden”, explained that the Samoan government received a check for $5,203 from the first year of breadfruit tree sales. But we need to back up a bit to see where our little breadfruit tree fits in to this story.In the 1980’s, Dr. Diane Ragone, Director of the Breadfruit Institute at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, spent several years collecting breadfruit varieties in the Pacific’s tropical areas. A collection of breadfruit trees was established in Maui forming the Breadfruit Institute. Dr. Susan Murch, from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, used tissue cultures to micro propagate several of the breadfruit varieties. Currently two varieties originating in Samoaare being mass produced for the commercial market. The National Tropical Botanic Garden has an understanding with the Samoan government that allows half of the fee collected when the trees are sold to be returned to the Samoan government, hence the check that was presented at the end of 2012.The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory currently has a rather large breadfruit tree in the North Garden (our economic plant room). This tree was planted in the room almost 10 years ago and is getting to be too tall for the 29’ room. The Collection Gardeners wanted to display breadfruit since it has an important role in the global food security story, so the hunt to find a smaller variety that could be used as a replacement for the large tree began.That gardener found one of the micro propagated Samoan varieties and had it shipped to the Conservatory. A volunteer gardener aide who assists in the North Garden found out about the plant search and volunteered to purchase the new, smaller breadfruit for the Conservatory (Thanks Bob!).Our new tree arrived a few days ago. It is a variety called Ma’afala and is about three feet tall. It was shipped from a nursery in Miami and will spend some time in the greenhouse before eventually making its way out to the North Garden.We are thrilled to be a part of this wonderful story of conservation of the breadfruit tree!