The ‘Ohai tree, commonly known as the monkey pod tree, is native to northern South America but very common in many tropical regions, such as Hawai‘i. Hawaiians are famous for their monkey pod bowls made from the premier craft wood since the 1940’s, which are still being made today and are now popular souvenir items. In the past, children chewed on the edible pods, which contain a sticky, sweet flavored pulp that has been described to taste similar to licorice.
|#2||LAUA’E FERN (Microsorum scolopendria)|
This introduced species is native to tropical Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Pacific islands. Laua’e was first collected in the wild in 1922 on Maui and Oahu. The fern has been in cultivation on all islands ever since. Hawaiians have adopted this fern because of its ability to add fragrance to their tapa clothing. The word laua’e means “sweet” or “beloved” due to its fragrance resembling the Maile vine that is used traditionally as lei.
|#3||PALAPALAI FERN (Microlepia strigosa)|
This fern is in the Bracken fern family that is distributed around the world with only 2 indigenous species in the Hawaiian Islands. Palapalai was used by the early Hawaiians for Hula alter decoration, lei making, food and as a medicine. This fern can grow in wet forests up to an elevation of 5800 feet and in dry lowland forests near sea level. Growing this fern is not too hard, it prefers shady cool areas. It does not like full sun exposure. Avoid using herbicides close to this fern it can be disturbed by chemical drift.
|#4||HAWAIIAN TREE FERN-- HAPU’U (Cibotium glaucum)|
This endemic species is only found in the state of Hawaii. This tree fern can grow at a rate of ½ an inch per year and can reach a height of over 15 feet. There were many uses to the Hawaiians for its pulu, the golden fur that is at the base of the fronds. They would embalm the chiefs with it for mummification purposes and they would use it for bedding. At one point the tree ferns were shipped to California to fill pillows and mattresses with the pulu.
|#5||TARO VINE — POTHOS IVY (Epipremnun aureum)|
This plant originates in the Solomon Islands and has naturalized throughout the state of Hawaii. As a common interior house plant you can find Pothos used in hanging baskets. In the landscape you can find it as a soil binder on slopes, growing up into trees from plants planted in the ground and as a ground cover around homes and commercial properties.
|#6||AKIA (Wikstroemia uva-ursi)|
This is an endemic species in the state of Hawaii. The family it belongs to, Wikstroemia, is distributed from Southeast Asia to Australia and the Pacific all the way to Hawaii with 50 – 70 different species. There 12 species recognized in Hawaii as endemic. The Hawaiians would use these plants for cordage, tools, and medicines as well as a fish poison. Akia has a species that is unique to each one of the main islands; some islands have more than one. Highly variable, Akia can grow from sea level to alpine zones, in dry lowland forest and in some of the wettest places in the state. With trees reaching 15 feet in height to 3 foot tall sprawling shrubs this is a very attractive plant to install in the garden. It uses very little water and bugs generally have nothing to do with it.
|#7||HONG KONG ORCHID (Bauhinia x blakeana)|
First described in 1908, this tree was found in a coastal home in Hong Kong that was in ruin. Due to its sterility, it is believed to be a hybrid cross of two different Bauhinias. The Hong Kong Orchid is widely cultivated throughout Hawaii for its fragrant flowers and lack of seeds. The tree was named in honor of the governor of Hong Kong, Sir Henry Blake and his wife Lady Blake.
The Taro plant was first introduced to the Polynesian islands by prehistoric sailors from Southeast Asian. This widely cultivated tropical plant that has broad peltate leaves is a large starchy tuber plant and is considered to be the staple of early Polynesian cuisine. A Hawaiian delicacy that you may find at most luaus is poi which is made by mashing steamed taro roots with water. All parts of the plant are edible, but the tuber itself is prepared in various methods including baking, steaming in imu (ovens in the earth), boiling, and frying.
|#9||BIRD OF PARADISE—PUA MANU|
The Bird of Paradise is native to South Africa and can grow 3 to 4 feet in height and is a close relative of the banana and the heliconia trees. The “bird” is the top portion of this plant, with orange feathers and a blue tongue. This exotic flower was believed to signify both magnificence and joy. Named for their distinctive blooms nestle among the shiny leaves of the hibiscus bush, like a dramatic bird hiding in the foliage.
The Hau tree is a shrub that can grow up to 10 meters in height and can extend over great areas of space—even to the point of being labeled an invasive plant and requires frequent pruning. The tree is native to Hawaii but common throughout the pacific which makes it indigenous. Early Hawaiians used the wood of the tree as firewood and for carvings. It was also used to make the ama for the outrigger canoes due to its buoyancy and its natural curves. Many used the bark for sealing leaks in seafaring vessels as well and to create rope. In addition, the sap from the flowers and the bark were used for medicinal purposes as a mild laxative and the buds were chewed to assist with dry-throat. However, the plant was considered so valuable that permission to cut the tree required direct permission from the Ali’i, or chief, of the area.
|#11||CERBERA—REVA TREE (Cerbera manghas)|
This tree is native to the seashores of Southeast Asia, tropical Australia and Polynesia. The Reva tree can grow up to 40 feet tall in coastal areas. It is used as ornamental shade trees in gardens and roadways. This tree is poisonous if ingested. In some countries it was used to kill animals and in other countries it was used to commit suicide. It also has a handful of medicinal, in Thailand the greyish wood is used for charcoal, in Myanmar the oil from the seed is used for and insecticide and in the Philippines the sap is used to stupefy fish in small streams.
|#12||TRAVELERS TREE (Ravenala madagascariensis)|
This giant bird of paradise is the largest in the family. An endemic species to Madagascar it was introduced into cultivation in the 1760’s to the Mauritius islands and has been spread throughout the tropics ever since. Reaching a height of 65 feet tall this tree is used as specimens in resorts, campuses, home gardens and botanical gardens. This tree stores water between its branches and can be consumed in times of need.
The ornamental garden flower, Red (or pink) Ginger, is native to Melanesia. In Hawai‘i, Red Ginger can sometimes be found nearby forests, trails and roads. The drooping flower is the Shell Ginger plant that can grow up to 10 feet and is an ornamental perennial flower originally from Asia. Its flower buds are usually white, red, yellow and pink in color.
|#14||ROYAL POINCIANA – OHAI ‘ULA (Delonix regia)|
This magnificent tree is and endemic species of Madagascar and has become endangered in its homeland. These are deciduous trees that can reach a height of 60 feet tall and come in a variety of shades of red and orange, rarely yellow. It was introduced to Hawaii in 1866 by Dr. William Hillebrand. The wood was used to make furniture and its seeds to make lei. This tree has become a common shade tree in parks, parking lots and along sidewalks throughout Hawaii.
|#15||PYGMY SPIRAL GINGER – ‘AWAPUHI ‘INIKINI PO’O (Costus woodsonii)|
This ornamental Costus is native to coastal areas of Nicaragua, CostaRica, Panama, and Colombia’s Pacific coastline. Widely cultivated in Hawaii, this plant can reach a height of 12 feet in shady protected areas but can grow in full sun with beach exposure. This has become a common garden accent plant with its unique shape and bright red flowers.
|#16||TI PLANT—KI |
The Ti plant is a perennial plant that flowers in the spring and can grow up to 10 feet tall or higher. This plant was brought to Hawai‘i by ancient Polynesians in their canoes. Parts of the plants were used for various medicinal, cultural, ceremonial, and religious purposes. The roots were baked and eaten or fermented into alcohol. The large, flexible, long-lasting leaves were used as food wrappers, plates, cups, table coverings, rain capes, thatch, clothes, hula skirts, sandals, and braided into leis. Ti leaves are also used as food wrappers for cooking food in an imu, a Hawaiian underground pit. It is widely cultivated in gardens because of its attractive, often colorful foliage, and its symbol of bringing good luck.
|#17||FIJI FAN PALM (Pritchardia pacifica and thurstonii)|
The Pritchardia pacifica is native to Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa. Its smooth grey trunk and seed pods that are shorter than the fronds are an easy identifier. Dr. William Hillebrand introduced this palm to Hawaii in the 1870’s. This palm can reach a height of 30 feet and was used be the native population for roof thatching reserved for the chief.
The Pritchardia thurstonii is endemic to Fiji and can be identified by its closely ringed trunk and the seed pods that are much longer than the fronds. This palm was introduced to Hawaii much later than the pacifica and has become a common garden ornamental.
|#18||KOU (Cordia subcordata)|
This indigenous species grows from Africa, Indonesia to Hawaii in the tropical belt. This tree is considered an evergreen although in the winter and spring the leafs will sometimes drop, making people think they are sick. Hawaiians used the flowers to treat sickness and make lei. The wood is prized for its light blonde color and is used for the carving of tools and tiki.
CROTONS (Codiaeum variegatum)
Native to India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and western Pacific Ocean islands, this shrub has become a common garden and house plant. This evergreen plant can reach heights of 10 feet and can be shaped into hedges for privacy and wind break. This plant comes in many shapes and colors and can be hybridized with no trouble just by growing it from seed. A cousin to this Croton is used to flavor Vermouth by using the plants bark.
|#20||PHILODENDRON SELLOUM (Philodendron bipinnatifidum)|
This giant vine ranges from Central Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, to Bolivia in rainforests to dry forests, from sea level to an elevation of 3280 feet. The fruits smell like papaya and are sweet and edible. This plant is used in Hawaii as and ornamental addition to gardens throughout the state. By sending off aerial roots these plants can stand alone by attaching the roots to rocks and soil and supporting themselves.
Lauhala trees grow up to 10 meters tall supported at the base by several thick, rigid roots exposed above soil. Ancient Hawaiians used the plant for medicinal purposes and used the nuts to make leis. The seeds and the fleshy, fibrous, colorful base of the ripe fruit segments, known as phalanges or "keys" can be eaten either raw or cooked. When the leaves were stripped off their spiny edges, they were used as thatch and woven or plaited into mats, pillows, sails, baskets, hats, sandals, and fans. Many of these items are still commonly made.
|#22||DWARF PLUMERIA (Plumeria obtusa x kalakaua)|
This particular variety of Plumeria was hybridized in Hawaii in the 1970’s. This is a short statured tree that is more like a shrub reaching a height of 12 feet. It was created by cross pollenating a Singapore Plumeria (Plumeria obtusa) with another hybridized variety called the Plumeria ‘King Kalakaua’ named after our last reigning monarch from Maui. These trees have now become a common sight in resort and home gardens across the state.
|#23||UMBRELLA PLANT – AHU’AWA HAOLE (Cyperus involucratus)|
This amphibious sedge is native to tropical Africa. Reaching a height of 4.5 feet this plants gets its name from the natural shape created by the way it propagates itself by bending its branches over to allow the seed pods to hit the water or wet soil around on all sides. The seeds germinate while still attached to the plant. These plants are often used in the making of lei and as ornamentals in ponds and water features.
Coconut trees can grow up to 30 meters tall and can live up to a hundred years. These trees are very famous among Hawaiians as the tree serves a multitude of purposes. One of the most famous uses of the coconut is the milk from the coconut, which is said to be the most sterile water on earth, and there are many stories of an entire ahupua‘a, or village, surviving during a drought with only coconut water to drink. The flesh of the coconut was used in many foods, consumed raw, or baked in an imu wrapped in Ti leaves with taro. Ancient Hawaiians also used the palm branches as roof thatching and as baskets. The sap from the tree can also be used to make a type of alcohol known as Toddy or palm wine.
|#25||NAUPAKA— NAUPAKA KAHAKAI|
The Naupaka plant is a shrub that can grow up to 3 feet tall and is believed to be one of the few plants “native” to Hawai‘i —propagated by birds bringing over the seeds. Ancient Polynesians used the plant for a variety of medicinal purposes. Today, the plants are used on beaches to prevent coastal erosion and are used for landscaping to protect other plants from salt water.
|#26||FALSE KAMANI – KAMANI HAOLE (Terminalia catappa)|
This deciduous tree can reach heights of 100 feet and are native to Indonesia and Malaysia. Introduced into Hawaii in the late 1850’s by Dr. William Hillebrand it has since naturalized and can be found in coastal areas throughout the state. The original tree still stands at Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu, Dr. Hillebrand’s original home site. Known also as the Tropical Almond, the seed are edible after the husk is removed. These trees are used for their lumber, medicinal creations, dye potential and as a food source.
|#27||BEACH VITEX—POHINAHINA (Vitex rotundifolia)|
This coastal ground cover is an indigenous species from Mauritius, off the Eastern coast of Madagascar, East to Hawaii. It grows in the tropical climates at low elevation usually along the coastline. Commonly found in Hawaii, Pohinahina was used culturally as lei, medicine and dye. It is in the sage family and a beautiful fragrance comes from the leaf. This plant is used quite often in beach restoration projects due to its ability to bind sand and not need a lot of water. It can grow to a height of 3 feet but can be maintained at a lower height if needed.
Commonly used as a house plant the Ficus tree is a close relative to the Banyan tree and originates from the same area of India. The famous Banyan tree in downtown Lahaina is one of the largest in the United States and in the world. The tree stands over 60 feet tall with more than twelve major trunks and spans more than 2/3 of an acre. In 1873, the small eight foot tree was brought to Hawaii from India by missionaries to celebrate the 50th anniversary of missionary work in Lahaina. Since then, the tree has been and continues to be carefully maintained today by members of the community.
|#29||PYGMY DATE PALM--PHOENIX PALM (Phoenix roebelenii)|
This palm was first discovered along the Mekong river of Laos. These palms are small in stature, reaching an overall height of 15 feet. The fronds have spikes along the inner section of the branch toward the trunk called peti spines, so be careful when trimming these palms.
The Pineapple plant is a member of the Bromeliaceae family and is the leading edible plant of that family. Pineapple is believed to be native to Southern Brazil and Paraguay and symbolizes friendship and hospitality. This plant was introduced to the Philippines and Hawai‘i as early as the 16th century. The first pineapple plantation (larger than 5 acres) was on the island of ‘Oahu in 1885 and eventually spanned out to the Big Island of Hawai‘i and Lana‘i. Hawai‘i continues to be one of the top exporters of whole and processed pineapples in the world.
|#31||KAVA—‘AWA (Piper methysticum) |
Native to Melanesia, it is believed that this plant originated from the island of Papua New Guinea. Used as a sedative, Kava was consumed by all classes of people. In Fiji it is the national beverage, drank for special occasions and daily like coffee or tea. Know in Hawaii as ‘Awa, in early times it was considered taboo for commoners to drink. It was reserved for the royalty due to the fact that it was uncommon around the state. By the mid-19th century the ‘Awa plant was grown on all islands near Kalo(taro) patches, and was enjoyed by all. ‘Awa is still used till this day as a natural sedative and can be found in stores sold as a dried root to be boiled in water and consumed like coffee.
|#32||SUGAR CANE—KO (Saccharum officinarum)|
Originating from New Guinea, Sugar ane has been distributed all around the world for is high sugar content. As many as 40 different cultivars have been developed throughout Polynesia. Hawaiians used the plant for many purposes, cooking, lei making, wind breaks, and thatch for roofing their homes. This plant was brought to Hawaii with some of the first Polynesian settlers and has become a cash crop for some of the islands of the state.
|#33||BANANA – MAI’A (Muas acuminata)|
The banana is probably one of the most recognized fruit tree in the world. Originating in Northeast India, Southeast Asia, and Indonesia this tree has been domesticated and hybridized to create many different flavors. Introduced into Hawaii in 1855 many hybrid varieties were created the most popular is the Apple Banana, known for its sweet taste. Some varieties fruit at 5 feet and some fruit at 25 feet depending upon type. They grow in full sun and can be used as privacy hedges and wind break although do best with some protection from the wind.
|#34||GOLDEN CANE PALMS -- ARECA PALMS (Dypsis lutescens)|
Native to Madagascar this palm tree can reach heights of 30 feet and have multiple canes growing from the base. These palms were used as indoor plants in the early twentieth century and hardly used outdoor, now they are one of the most common palms in tropical landscapes. The way it grows in clumps makes this a great palm for windbreak and privacy hedges. The Areca palm prefers some protection but can handle most conditions in the tropics. It will show leaf burn when planted too close to the ocean due to salt abrasion from the wind.
Introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in the 19th century, the Plumeria trees are native to Central and South America. Its flowers grow in a variety of colors, such as pink, magenta, or cream and all have yellow-centered blossoms. Today, these flowers are commonly used to make leis and given for greetings, weddings, accomplishments, and as a sign of respect. Blooming from early summer through autumn, the Plumeria is cultivated abundantly in Hawai‘i. Plumeria flowers are believed to symbolize perfection, springtime and new beginnings. Also, there are many Plumeria flavored perfumes and essential oils, which are a favorite among tourists and locals alike.
Aloe Vera is a succulent species of plant whose origin is unknown but guessed to be from somewhere near northern Africa. The plant has traditionally been used for a variety of medicinal uses and can be traced back 6,000 years to early Egypt, where the plant was depicted on stone carvings. Early Hawaiians used the plant for healing burns, as a tea to detoxify the body, and as a moisturizer for the skin. They would also mash the leaves and stems of the Aloe to make a poultice for arthritic conditions and found great success.
|#37||WHITE BIRDS OF PARADISE ( Strelitzia nicolai)|
These relatives of the banana originate from the Cape region of South Africa and are now commonly grown throughout the world. The first specimen to flower in a botanical garden was in 1885 in St. Petersburg Russia and named after the Czar Nicholas. These trees are used generally as specimens in resort and campus gardens due to their size. Reaching a height of 20 feet these plants clump in growth and can have as many as 20 to 30 trunks. Keiki(baby) plants are used in resort and commercial lobbies and offices as an interior accent plant.
|#38||WATER LILIES (Nymphaea spp.)|
There are 35 species of water lily that grow throughout the world, from subarctic zones to tropical zones. Most of the water lilies found in Hawaii are derived from species from Southeast Asia. They are hybridized and grown in local gardens to create more new and interesting colors.
|#39||BLUE LATAN PALM (Latania loddigesii)|
This palm is easily identifiable by its large silvery blue fan shaped palm fronds. These palms can reach an overall height of 35 feet with the fronds reaching a length 0f 8 feet. Originally from the small islets around Mauritius off the eastern coast of Madagascar, this palm has been distributed to many locations around the world as garden specimens.
|#40||GIANT SPIDER LILY (Crinum asiaticum)|
The Giant Spider Lily is dispersed around the world by humans although it originates from Southeast Asia. Throughout Melanesia and Indonesia there are various preparations of the root, leaf and bulbs to make a medicine, that is how it gets the name poisonous bulb plant. In Hawaii the plant is used in resort, campus and home gardens for its fragrant showy flowers and its hardiness. These plants come in a variety of colors from deep purple with purplish white flowers to all green with white flowers.
|#41||KOI FISH (Cyprinus carpio)|
Koi fish are native to Central Europe and Asia. Japan took on the color breeding of the Koi in the 1820’s and continues the process still, today .Some of the oldest Koi fish have been reported to be 226 years old and can be worth a staggering amount of money. There are at least 22 recognized varieties that have come out of Japan all of which are based on their coloration. Koi in Japanese means “affection” or “love” and therefore a symbol of love and friendship.
|#42||SCARLET MACAW – KALAKO (Ara macao)|
Native of Central and South America these are the largest species in the parrot family reaching a length of 35 inches. Their diet consists of grains, seeds and fruit. Kalako can say her name and “Hello”. Her name, Kalako, is short for kalakoa which in Hawaiian means “colorful one”. These birds can live up to a ripe old age of 90, that’s why they are cindered lifelong companions.
|#43||SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO – KEOKI (Cacatua galerita)|
These parrots are found in wooded areas of Australia and New Guinea. The plume on the top of the head will rise up when they feel threatened or exited. These birds can reach a length of 17 to 22 inches and are fed a diet of high quality pellets, grains, fruits and vegetables. Keoki can say word like “Aloha”, “Hello”, “Bye”, “Hi Keoki” and “Hello pretty bird”. These birds can live in captivity for up to 70 years.
|#44||BLUE MACAW – BOB (Ara ararauna)|
South American natives, these birds are one of the largest species in their family reaching a length of 34 inches. They thrive in wooded, non-flooded forests in South America. They feed on seeds, fruit and nuts sometimes eating plant leaves. Bob cannot speak but he does like to dance and make loud squawks. These birds have the potential to live up the age of 80 years.
|#45||CHILEAN FLAMINGOS (Phoenicopterus chilensis)|
There are 6 species of Flamingos from around the world. Ours came to us from Argentina. These Flamingos are not as big nor have the bright pink beak, feathers and legs as the species from the Caribbean. They have a special diet of high protein pellets that are dissolved in water, with a color agent similar to the carotene found in the shrimp and algae that they eat in the wild. The reason it appears that their knees are backwards is because those are really their ankles, their knees are up under their feathers.
|#46||BLACK AUSTRAILIAN SWAN-- NEWMAN (Cygnus atratus)|
Native to the coastal wetlands of Australia, it is thought the black coloring is a camouflage mechanism evolved over time. They were first described in 1790 by John Latham who was an English naturalist. These large water birds were hunted to the point of extinction in New Zealand, but later reintroduced with populations from Australia.
MUTE SWAN -- THALIA AND NOAH (Cygnus olor)
Native to Europe and Asia, the Mute Swan is one of the heaviest flying birds in the world, weighing in at 26 pounds. First described in 1789 by a German naturalist, Johann Friedrich Gmelin, the mute refers to it being the least vocal swan species in the family. These swans pair for life so you will see Thalia and Noah together most of the time.