Breadfruit overlooked

USAToday has done a nice write-up of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hawaii, but, unaccountably, this does not even mention the work of the Breadfruit Institute, which is a department of the NTBG. I blogged about the Institute and Diane Ragone’s pioneering efforts in breadfruit conservation not too long ago. They really should get more exposure. But so should other NTBG work on cultivated plants, such as the restoration of the taro terraces at Limahuli, which are now used to grow various varieties of a number of traditional Hawaiian crops. There’s a photo of the terraces in the USAToday piece, but the text is entirely about wild plants. Important stuff, but why leave out the amazing work going on in agricultural biodiversity?

The Breadfruit Story

That’s the title of just one of the sections of an exhibition of botanical watercolours, books and prints about the Caribbean called “Paradise in Print,” currently on at the New York Botanical Garden. The story it refers to, of course, is that of Captain Bligh, Fletcher Christian and the Bounty.

For an update on the story of the breadfruit’s global journey, go to VOA News. You’ll find an interview with — and a cooking demonstration by — my friend and world breadfruit expert Diane Ragone, director of the Breadfruit Institute at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hawaii (both text and video).

The Breadfruit Institute maintains the world’s largest and most complete breadfruit germplasm collection. Diane has dedicated her life to the breadfruit, and in particular the idea that it can make a much greater contribution to the alleviation of hunger around the world. She and her research partners have been working on a tissue culture technique for the mass propagation and safe transfer of germplasm.