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Diseases and Pests Can Affect Breadfruit

Breadfruit trees are subject to many plant diseases and pests common to the tropics. Before the young trees are planted, the site is prepared by setting fires in the troughs in order to sterilize the soil. The roots are protected from grubs by the addition of insecticides. Once the trees are mature and producing, ants may infest branches that have died back after fruit has been harvested. Ants are also attracted to overripe fruit. Keeping the area around the tree free of fallen ripe fruit and broken branches is a good strategy. Other pests, such as soft-scales and mealybug infestation, require treatment or the health of the tree may diminish. One problem is fungal disease. Depending on the species of fungus, there may be fruit rot or root rot, there may be wilting leaves, branches may die back, or entire trees may succumb to the infection. Farmers have various fungicides available to them but good farming practice can also make a difference.

Breadfruit Symbolizes the Lush Growth and Abundance of the Tropics

The breadfruit tree deserves its name and reputation for providing “bread for the hungry.” Native people recognized its significance from early on, spreading the plant from country to country and cultivating it to grow optimally in each new environment. The fruit itself has provided food for many, each community putting its own twist on breadfruit preparation, both sweet and savory. They were resourceful enough to recognize the usefulness of other parts of the plant also, ranging from feeding livestock to making caulking glue for canoes, from medicines to cloth. Modern people are not as dependent on all components of the tree, although undoubtedly there are those who still appreciate and utilize them. The fruit, however, is still recognized for what it offers as a valuable food item, both for people in the southern countries, who still consider breadfruit a staple and for people in the north for which breadfruit is gourmet.

Gwendolyn Vesenka

Further Reading

“Artocarpus altilis (Moraceae).” Montoso Gardens. artocarpus_altilis.htm (accessed 29 July 2011).

Morton, Julia. “Breadfruit,” Fruits of Warm Climates. 1987. http://www.hort.purdue .edu/newcrop/morton/breadfruit.html (accessed 29 July 2011).

Schweitzer, Veronica S. “Ulu: The Breadfruit Tree.” Coffee Times. 2006. coffeetimes .com/ulu.htm (accessed 29 July 2011).

“Ulu.” Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawai’i. (accessed 29 July 2011).

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