Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Allerton Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai

Allerton Botanical Garden Kauai
Hawaii is the home to many botanical gardens, and Allerton Tropical Botanical Garden on the island of Kauai is one of my favorites. Located in the beautiful Lawa'i Valley, Allerton Gardens encompass approximately 85 acres of land. The mission of this private, non-profit organization is to preserve and protect the one third of all plants that are threatened by extinction. The Allerton Garden Guided Tour lasts approximately two and a half hours and is presented by knowledgeable tour guides, each sharing their vast knowledge of Allerton's botanical and cultural history. Sit back, listen to some Hawaiian music and enjoy the tour!
Allerton Tropical Botanical Gardens Kauai
Kauai's Lawa'i Valley was known in ancient Hawaiian culture as the land divide of Lawa'i. In 1848, the land was granted to King Kamehameha I, who willed a third of the land to Queen Emma. In 1885, Kamehameha's widow gave the remaining land to Queen Emma, and she took permanent residence there after her husband and son passed away. Since she possessed such a deep passion for gardens, Queen Emma planted numerous plumeria, bougainvillea, mango, pandanus, rose apple and fern throughout the valley. Queen Emma leased the Lawa'i Valley to the McBryde family, who eventually bought the estate from her in 1886. The McBrydes continued to plant sugarcane, taro and rice, then sold the land to Robert Allerton in 1938. Allerton and his son immediately expanded the gardens in the lower valley, creating formal garden rooms with various structures, fountains and exotic plantings. In 1964, Allerton was declared as a tropical botanical garden, chartered by the U.S. Congress, which completely took over the estate in the early 1990's.
Water Lily
The ride into the gardens starts with Pump Six, the original pump house that delivered water to the sugarcane fields in the upper valley during the early 1900's. These beautiful water lilies now thrive in the water source behind the pump house.
 Pachypodium rutenbergiantium 
Next is Pachypodium rutenbergianum, an unusual looking tree with spiny leaves that only grow at the very tips of the branches. The tree reaches a height of 3 to 12 meters and displays fragrant white and yellow flowers in the warmer months, the blooms resembling those of plumeria.
Hawaiian Native Hibiscus
 Hawaiian Hibiscus is endemic to the island of Kauai and grows as a shrub or small tree, reaching a height of 10-23 feet. The state flower of Hawaii is the yellow hibiscus, while other forms such as red, orange and white can be seen throughout the islands. Native Hawaiian hibiscus is on the endangered species list and is under protection by the National Tropical Botanical Gardens.
Monkey Brain Tree 

If you look closely at the fruit of this tree, it exhibits a bumpy appearance, almost  resembling a brain.  This tree is known as Osage-orange, hedge apple or monkey-brain tree. It was late in the season when these photos were taken, so the fruit which is normally a yellow-green has started to fade. The fruit of the tree is related to the Mulberry, but for the most part is not edible.  The seeds are edible and the hard wood has been widely used in the making of bows.

Our Tour Guide explains the nutritional value of Artocarpus altilis – Breadfruit Ulu

Native to Hawaii, Breadfruit grows in tropical lowland areas, especially in those areas near ancient Hawaiian settlements. The ancient Polynesians had brought Breadfruit to Hawaii in their canoes and used it as a life-sustaining staple,the fruit and seeds are edible and very nutritious. The milky sap was used for medicinal purposes and the fruits were cooked and eaten, sometimes used to make poi. Ulu is known as the "tree of bread" in Hawaii.
Breadnut Tree
This bread nut is a smaller version of breadfruit, containing seeds which are very high in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. The fresh seeds can be cooked and eaten or allowed to dry out.
Allerton Garden Room

Robert Allerton had an affection for formal gardens, so he created this enclosed walled garden. The room serves as a peaceful retreat and leads to a more open area.
Shell Ginger
The lattice structure above leads to these beautiful Shell Ginger which grow in the gardens beyond.
Allerton Garden Kauai
The tour continues through a rain forest of tropical plants including native palms, bromeliads, orchids and ferns, leading to the Allerton family orchid.
Palmello Tree (Hawaiian Grapefruit)
The fruit orchid is full of culinary delights, including this Hawaiian grapefruit, which is quite a tasty treat. It has a similar appearance to grapefruit as we know it and the taste is much sugar needed!
Pomegranate Tree
The tropical climate on the island of Kauai allows these Pomegranate trees to grow upwards to 100 feet, producing pomegranates larger than I have even seen.
Diana Goddess of the Hunt Allerton Garden Rooms
Following the trail, we encounter this peaceful reflecting pool being overlooked by a beautiful Romanesque statue...and
Spilt Leaf Philodendron
over-sized philodendron and aerial roots lead us to another garden room.
Mermaid Room Sculpture and Fountain
One hundred year old Monkey Pod trees and naturally scalloped palms line the Mermaid Room, where a scalloped-shaped fountain creates a soothing water flow at a pace of about 52-54 pulses per minute. Allerton had this fountain designed in order to create a calming "Neptune Effect", which is achieved by sitting on the bench and allowing your mind to relax and heart rate to slow to the beat of the pulsating water.
Chinese Ceramic Urn
More unique sights are seen as we move along. This ancient Chinese urn is placed in just the right location in the gardens.
Three Reflection Pools Room Art
Next is this elongated, three-tiered reflection pool which is overlooked by a Sleeping Horse. This original Hawaiian artwork was purchased by Robert Allerton. It is important to note that all the reflection pools in the gardens are fed by underground springs.
Allerton Garden Opening Scene of Gilligan's Island
Do you remember the television series "Gilligan's Island"? This lagoon is where the filming of the opening scene took place.
Pink Quill Bromeliad and Orchid
Along the walk to the Bamboo Room is an abundance of tropical Bromeliads and Orchids. 
Clumping Bamboo (Non-Invasive)
This Bamboo Room was one of the first garden rooms that Robert Allerton came up with. Many do not know that Robert Allerton was partially deaf; therefore, he enjoyed the loud clicking and clacking of the bamboo reeds as they moved in the wind. This bamboo grove was also used in the filming of 'Pirates of the Caribbean IV:" when Captain Jack crossed over the bamboo bridge!
Crytostachys renda Lipstick Palm 
As we leave the Bamboo Room, we encounter a tropical Lipstick Palm. Its bright red bark was used to make dyes by the ancient Polynesians.
Moreton Bay Figs Kauai
Here are the famous Moreton Bay Figs. In 1992, Steven Spielberg filmed the movie "Jurassic Park" right here at this sight. If you remember the scene of the raptor eggs, they were placed in the root of the second tree, and the jeep scene took place in the third tree over. The Moreton Bay Fig, originally native to Australia was introduced to Allerton Gardens just 70 years ago. 
Moreton Bay Figs Kauai
The figs that were collected as saplings by Allerton and shipped in empty beer cans now have roots reaching 6-8 feet in height.
Palm Seeds
As we continue the tour, bright red palm tree seeds tower above our heads...
Vanilla Bean Orchid
and Vanilla Bean Orchid vines can be seen climbing up a palm tree.  If you are wondering if this is where vanilla comes are correct!
Heliconia (Lobster Claw)
Other sites are the beautiful and unusual blooms of Heliconia, also known as Lobster Claw Plant...
Staghorn Fern Allerton Garden
and Staghorn Fern hanging from the trees above.

Allerton Botanical Garden Kauai
I hope you enjoyed the tour of the beautiful Allerton Botanical Gardens in Kauai. For now it's Aloha or A hui hou...until we meet again.
Allerton Botanical Garden Kauai

For more information visit Allerton Botanical Gardens 

Visitors Center - 4425 Lawai Road, Poipu 96756

As Always...Happy Gardening!
Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2016. All rights reserved


  1. Being a designer and a florist, I am used to the flowers, but that Fig tree is awsome. Florida had Banyon trees. I never saw that monkey tree. Great post. Happy Thanksgiving,, soooo interesting.yvonne

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the post Yvonne. The Moreton Bay Figs are the most magnificent trees I have ever seen and the botanical gardens in Kauai are true paradise. I can relate to your thoughts, for as a landscape designer I am around plants all the time, but this place always takes my breath away. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  2. Che bellezza! Non conosco quasi nessuna pianta perĂ² :) Troppo diverse da quelle che vedo di solito!

    Un saluto :)

    1. They are different from what I am used to as well, which makes them even more beautiful and fascinating! Thank you for visiting. Have a great weekend!

  3. I enjoyed my virtual trip to Paradise through your stunning photos, Lee. My favorite is the Moreton Bay Fig tree roots, and of course the flowers are stunning. P. x

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the tour Pam. I always feel like I am traveling to far away places though other blogger's posts, even if virtually!

  4. I loved seeing these wonderful tropical plants. Your images brought back memories of my own trip to Kauai years ago. That Moreton Bay Fig is incredible!

    1. It makes me smile knowing that my images brought back happy memories for you. Kauai is certainly a magical and speical place.

  5. What a beautiful post. I love the fruits you described and the tree with the roots exposed. Lovely.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed the tour Terri. There is such a diversity of wonderful and fascinating plants in Kauai and it is nice to know that National Tropical Botanical Garden is making great strides in preserving them.

  6. I really enjited the tour of all the beautiful and unusual trees and flowers. Love the Pachypodium rutenbergianum tree, and the moreton Bay fig tree, Wow it's huge.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the walk through Allerton Gardens. With the tropical climate there, all the plants look like they are on steroids!

  7. Oh my what a beautiful garden tour! Thank you for sharing and this has to be on my bucket list

    1. You are welcome and I am glad you enjoyed the photos. It took me 34 years to get back to Kauai and it was worth the wait! It is truly paradise!

  8. Wow is all I can say! Lovely pictures of some amazing plants!


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!