Alohacash $50 Big Island – Ulu


The ‘Ulu, or breadfruit, was brought to Hawaii by the early Polynesian settlers as a staple food source. A single tree, which is a member of the fig family, can yield up to 450 pounds of fruit per season. The trees have beautiful deep green, multi-lobed leaves and can reach up to 60 feet in height. The fruit itself is a large light-green globe than can weigh up to 10 pounds. The fruit is very bland in flavor and is sometimes used as a substitute or addition to Poi (mashed Taro root) called Poi ‘Ulu. In ancient Hawaii the ’Ulu found many uses:

“The breadfruit tree has many uses other than for food. All parts of the plant give off the milky sticky sap. When the sap is used alone or when mixed with other plants, it can be applied to the skin to heal cuts, scratches and various skin diseases. It is also used as a moisturizer for wind-cracked or scaly skin. Mouth sores can be treated with the sap and the leaf buds. The sap can also be used as a chewing gum, and more importantly was used in ancient days as a glue and caulking material, for such as canoe building. In the old times, a bird-lime made from the sap was used to catch nectar-feeding birds for their brightly-colored feathers. These were collected for their service as warm and colorful capes for the chiefly ones. The fallen and sun-dried male flowers of the `ulu can be lit, and the smoke is a nontoxic mosquito repellent in these days of that notorious introduced species. The wood of the tree’s trunk is light in weight. Hawai`i’s craftsmen used it for making canoes, woodwork for homes, drums, surfboards and for papa kui`ai or poi boards. A low grade tapa cloth was made from the inner bark of young branches. The rough sheath, maloulu, was used as a dry abrasive in the final polishing of bowls and utensils.”


The beauty and majesty of the tree are only outshined by it’s usefulness. The $50 denomination depicts the ‘Ulu surrounded by colorful green leaves, and a depiction of Madam Pele and the Kilauea Volcano on the reverse.