Hydrolyzable Carbohydrates other than Sucrose
The above statements of uses and content apply solely to the seedless variety. In the seeded form the flesh or pulp is of little value, but the seeds, which are eaten roasted or boiled, are highly relished. They have something of the flavor of chestnuts.
The breadfruit tree is put to many uses in the Pacific islands.
1 Report of the Hawaii Exp. Stat., 1914.
Cloth and a kind of glue or calking material are obtained from it, while the leaves are excellent fodder for live-stock.
In climatic requirements the tree is strictly tropical. Mac-Caughey sums up the necessary factors as: "A warm, humid climate throughout the year; copious precipitation; moist, fertile soil; and thorough drainage. The absence of any one of these conditions is a serious detriment to the normal growth of the plant, or may wholly prevent its fruiting. It is scarcely tolerant of shade, and in Hawaii large trees are almost invariably found growing in the open."It may be observed that in those parts of Central America where the breadfruit is cultivated it is found only in the lowlands, disappearing at elevations of about 2,000 feet. It is evident, therefore, that it is only successful in regions of uniformly warm climate.
Propagation of the seedless breadfruit is effected in the Pacific islands by means of sprouts from the roots. Mac-Caughey writes: "When growing in the soft moist soil which it prefers, the breadfruit roots shallowly and widely. Often a network of exserted roots is visible above the ground. This habit is of the greatest value in propagation. The wounding or bruising of the root at any given point stimulates the production of an offshoot, and young plants for transplanting are produced solely in this way. This mode of propagation is naturally very slow and laborious, as the young shoots grow slowly, and are very sensitive to injury."
P. J. Wester has developed in the Philippines a method which is more expeditious and satisfactory. Root-cuttings are used. The method is described by him as follows:
"A plant bed or frame should be filled with medium coarse river sand to a depth of 7 or 8 inches, - beach sand will do provided the salt has been thoroughly washed out. If sand is not procurable, sandy loam may be used.
"Larger cuttings may be made, but for the sake of convenience in handling and in order not to impose too severe a strain upon the tree that supplies the material, it is inadvisable to dig up roots for cuttings that are more than 2\ inches in diameter. Roots less than \ inch in diameter should be discarded. Root cuttings 10 inches long have been very successful, but it is probable that a length of 8 inches would prove sufficient, and, if so, this would allow the propagation of a larger number of cuttings from a given amount of roots than if longer cuttings were made.
"Saw off the roots into the proper lengths and smooth the cuts with a sharp knife. Then make a trench and place the cuttings diagonally in the sand, leaving about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches of the thickest end of each cutting projecting above the surface, pack the sand well, water, and subsequently treat like hardwood cuttings. When the cuttings are well rooted and have made a growth of eight to ten inches, transplant to the nursery. Great care should be exercised in not bruising, drying, or otherwise injuring the material from the digging of the roots to the insertion of the cuttings in the sand.
"The work should be done during the rainy season."
Seeds of the seeded breadfruit do not retain their vitality more than a few weeks, and should be planted promptly after they are removed from the fruit.
The varieties of the seedless breadfruit are numerous but imperfectly known. As many as twenty-five are said to occur in the Pacific islands, although MacCaughey states that only three are known in Hawaii. It is a curious circumstance that a tree as important as the breadfruit should have received so little scientific study; but exceedingly little is known regarding the cultural methods best suited to it and the relative merits of the different varieties propagated vegetatively. Concerning such matters as its place in Polynesian folklore, its history, and the uses of the fruit, however, there is an abundance of information in the accounts of early voyages as well as in the writings of modern authors.