On a recent trip I had the amazing experience of visiting the beautiful MyBryde Botanical Gardens and Preserve located in the historical Lāwa`i Valley on the south shore of Kauai. McBryde Garden has become the home to the largest collection of native Hawaiian flora in
existence. Most of these plants are found only in Hawaii, and many are threatened, endangered, or even extinct in the wild. McBryde is the home of the National Tropical Botanical Garden's Conservation Program housing major research and education facilities and its mission is to discover, study, and preserve the native plants of Hawaii and educate the public through programs, lectures, publications and tours of the gardens.
|Welcome to McBryde Garden & Preserve|
The land now occupied by the McBryde Garden lies in the southern part of the island extending along the Lāwa‘i Stream from the Kapalaoa Range to Lāwa‘i Bay. The valley is deep and wide, framed by majestic cliffs that can be seen along both sides. Ancient artifacts including remnants of habitation deposits, agricultural terraces, stone walls, and trails are found along the gardens, indications of the early Polynesians who inhabited the area. The rainforest is magnificent and lush with tropical vegetation.
In the rainforests members of the Palm family provided early inhabitants with food, oil, fiber, and building materials. McBryde Garden fosters a collection of 23 species of Pritchardia (fan palm) that are native to the Hawaiian Islands, including Pritchardia limahuliensis, which is known only to Kauai.
|Noni-Morinda citrifolia (Indian Mulberry)|
Noni (Morinda citrifolia) known as Indian mulberry, was introduced by the Polynesians over a thousand years ago and used for medicinal purposes and for dye. It was one of 30 species of plants brought over by early settlers in their canoes to help sustain life. The various species of plants are found in McBryde's "Canoe Garden".
|Banyan Tree (Ficus benghalensis)|
Banyan are actually figs and known for their huge aerial roots that grow outward from the base of the tree. By me standing aside the tree you can get a sense of the true size of these roots.
|Lipstick Palm Tree (Scientific name Cyrtostachys renda)|
|Cycad Encephalartos Cone|
Cycads are ancient plants that date back more than 300 million years ago. The cones seen here are produced by the male plant and can grow up to several feet in length! Below is one of the most beautiful blooms I have ever seen. It was deep into the rainforest so I used my zoom to get a closer glimpse. The feathery flower was mostly white with pink base...at least six inches in height and breathtaking!
|Alpinia purpurata 'Jungle Queen' (Zingiberaceae)-Ginger|
|Platycerium (Giant Staghorn Fern)|
Platycerium (Staghorn Fern) can be found growing as epiphytes all around McBryde Gardens and can be several feet diameter as the magnificent one seen here. They are known to be seen attached to monkey pod trees in particular, but also on masses of hanging aerial roots or on stumps low to the ground. I have seen these unusual plants in greenhouses but this was a first seeing them in the wild in an actual rainforest!
| Alocasia macrorrhiza (Giant Elephant Ear)|
The White-rumped Shama was Introduced to Kauai in 1931 in an effort to supplement the native fauna on the island. I was thrilled to spot this beautiful tropical bird in the rainforest of McBryde perched on a branch overhead.
|Tillandsia Cyanea (Pink Quill Bromeliad)|
|Ixora coccinea (Jungle Geranium)|
| Aechmea bromeliad|
Tropical blooms such as Bromeliad and Ixora can be observed growing throughout the forest floor while spanish moss cascades from the canopy of trees above.
Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish Moss)
|Mussaenda philippica 'Queen Sirikit' |
|Hawaiian Canoe Garden Mai'a Banana Musa acuminata|
In Hawaii this banana tree is known as the Mai'a 'Oa'. It has cultural and folk medicinal significance as it was the only seeded banana originally introduced to the islands.
| Pandanus tectorius (Hala) Native to Hawaii|
Pandanus tectorius (Hala in Hawaiian) is native to Kauai. Hala trees
are of cultural, health, and economic importance in the islands. The fruit and roots are edible but the leaves, which are the most useful part of the plant, are woven into mats, thatch, sails, baskets, hats, and local fans.
|Pritchardia hillebrandi (Arecaceae)|
|Brighamia insignis (Ōlulu or Alula) Endangered |
Alula (Brighamia insignis), a member of the Campanulaceae or
Bellflower family is an endangered species which is endemic to
the islands of Kauai and Niihau and protected in the McBryde Garden. With only a single plant known in the wild, propagation of Alula
has been one of the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s
great accomplishments. Another success story has been the propagation
of Munroidendron racemosum, a beautiful small tree in the Araliaceae
or Ginseng family. Extremely rare and endangered, Munroidendron is
endemic to Kaua‘i and is found in the wild only in a very few locations.
|Ficus dammaropsis (Moraceae)-Dinner Plate Fig|
Thanks to the folks at National Tropical Botanical Garden who helped me to identify this plant, I found out the name of this unusual looking fruit. At first I thought it looked somewhat like an artichoke so I was surprised to find out that it is 'Ficus dammaropsis', an unusual fig known as "Dinner Plate Fig". This species produces a multiple fruit and the female flowers are pollinated only by the wasp Ceratosolen abnormis. The wasp enters to lay her eggs and in doing so she pollinates the female flowers. Neither fig nor the wasp can survive without this relationship.
|Crinum pedunculatum (Queen Emma Spider Lily)|
|Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)|
It took some research to find the name of this unusual bird. It is the Dusky Moorhen, a member of the Rallidae family which is an inhabitant of land and water, and often the first species to occupy islands. I had the rare experience of viewing this one in McBryde .
|Heliconia Rostrata (Lobster Claw)|
Heliconias belong to the botanical order Zingiberales. They are related to the families that include Gingers, Bananas (Musaceae), Cannas, and Birds of Paradise. 'Awapuhi', or shampoo ginger, was introduced by the Polynesians and used as a shampoo and conditioner for the hair. Many of the Heliconias and their relatives display beautiful ornamental flowers that that are much admired by visitors and are economically important to Hawaii’s cut flower industry.
|Alpinia purpurata ‘Eileen McDonald’ (Zingiberaceae)|
| 'Hale' (Hawaiian Hut)|
As the path wraps around toward the end of the tour this Hale (Hawaiian hut) can be viewed. As part of the McBryde restoration project this original thatched Hawaiian hut, 'Hale' was restored back to its original state. Hale were used as a general meeting place by early Polynesians.
|Bio Diversity Trail|
|Bio Diversity Trail|
This newly added Bio Diversity Trail was created in 2014 to educate the public on the fragility of our planet and how the diversity of plants changes over time. It takes visitors throughout millions of years from 300 million years ago to the present, shows how changing environmental conditions can alter the biodiversity of the planet, and continues National Tropical Botanical Garden's efforts to preserve the native flora of Hawaii.
|Osmoxylon talaudense Philipson (Araliaceae)|
|Lotus Pond Water Lily|
|Carambola (Star Fruit)|
We ended the day with an introduction to Star Fruit, a sweet tasting fruit with distinctive ridges running down its sides resembling a star, hence its name. The entire fruit is edible, usually eaten out of hand, and may be made into relishes, preserves, and juice drinks.
|National Botanical Garden Tours|
McBryde is one of five National Tropical Botanical Gardens covering
over 2000 acres in Hawaii and Florida. We took the self guided tour and met up with a group of fellow gardening enthusiasts, explored the gardens together, learning new things and sharing our prior knowledge. This was an experience of a lifetime and writing this post has brought back so many wonderful memories and has encouraged me to even further research the various flora and fauna I had experienced. After revisiting the hundreds of photographs I had taken of the gardens I aimed at selecting the few that would truly capture the essence of this wonderful paradise. I hope you enjoyed the tour of McBryde Gardens!
As Always...Happy Gardening!
Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2015. All rights reserved