Varieties in Hawai‘i
Although some 200 varieties of ‘ulu have been identified growing in tropical environments around the world, there are several that are most prominent in Hawai‘i today:
The original variety brought to Hawai‘i (known as ‘Ulu Maori in other parts of Oceania), Hawaiian ‘ulu is seedless, dense, and firm with a starchy texture, making it ideal for fries, chips, and au gratin dishes, or for cooking the traditional way: roasted right in the fire!
This Samoan variety is smaller and less dense than its Hawaiian cousin, resulting in a lighter option that’s ideal for mashes, patties, and blended dishes. Thanks to the work of the Breadfruit Institute and Global Breadfruit, ma‘afala seedlings are now propagated through tissue culturing and available commercially. This has made it the second most common breadfruit variety in Hawai‘i today, with a portion of tree sales going back to its country of origin.
This Samoan and Tongan variety is large and round, with a light texture similar to ma‘afala. The segments on its skin are slightly raised and a neck or “collar” is usually found around the stem.
Also available through the work of the Breadfruit Institute and Global Breadfruit, this Fijian variety is seeded, tender, and moist when mature, with a tasty sweetness when ripe. A favorite of local food processor John Cadman of Pono Pies!
This general category of breadfruit trees is originally from Micronesia; fruits are very large and spiky, with an extremely light, fluffy texture.
Originally from French Polynesia, this variety is round and firm with a similar taste and texture to Hawaiian ‘ulu. Seedlings can also be accessed through Global Breadfruit, with proceeds going back to the country of origin.
This common variety is easily recognized by its leaves which, compared to other common varieties, are much less segmented.