Sunday, March 1, 2020

This Month in the Garden: A Re-Visit to Allerton National Tropical Botanical Garden Kauai, Hawaii

Allerton National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai
Allerton Garden, also known as Lāwaʻi-kai, is an 80-acre botanical garden located in the Lawa'i valley on the south shore of Kauai, Hawaii. The land in the valley was granted to James Young Kanehoa, the advisor to Hawaii’s King Kamehameha I in in 1848 and upon his death he willed a third of the land to his niece, Queen Emma of Hawaii. Queen Emma inherited the remainder of the property in 1885 upon the death of King Kamehameha's wife and to fulfill her great love of gardening she planted rose apples, laurel, mangoes, bamboo, pandanus, ferns, and bougainvillea along the valley cliffs.
Allerton National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai
Upon Queen Emma's death, the entire valley including what is now the adjacent McBryde Garden, was purchased by the McBryde family to be used as a sugarcane plantationIn 1938, McByde sold the valley to Robert Allerton, the only son of a Mayflower descendant who had made his fortune in Chicago livestock, banking, and real estate. Allerton later became an avid art collector and patron and took on an interest in landscape architecture. Robert met John Gregg, a young architectural student at the University of Illinois, whom he eventually adopted. The two men traveled the world collecting art and fell in love with Kauai during a visit. They purchased a small portion of Queen Emma's plantation for a residence and gardens and quickly began designing the landscape master plan and garden rooms of Allerton, incorporating collected statues with plantings.
Allerton Garden Rainforest
Today, the Allerton and McBryde gardens are maintained by the National Tropical Botanical Gardens (NTBG), a non-profit organization founded in 1964, who's mission is devoted to plant research, conservation and education. Today's feature, Allerton Garden can be considered part garden tour and part art exhibit, as visitors are guided through multiple garden rooms decorated with exotic plants, sculptures and water features, each designed by the Allertons themselves. Allerton garden also has a rich history as a Hollywood film location for many notable movies and TV shows including Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. Come along!
Heliconia Lobster Claw
The first of exotic plant we encounter is Heliconia, also known as Lobster Claw. As you can see, the plant gets its name from its claw-like "bracts". There are 194 known species of Heliconia native to the tropical Americas, but only a few are indigenous to certain islands of the western Pacific and Maluku. 
Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum))
One of the rain forest plants which I most admire is the magnificent Staghorn Fern, an epiphyte that lives on a host tree and draws its nutrients from the surrounding air, water and debris surrounding the plant. Staghorn Fern generally grow under the canopies of trees which provide light shade and over time the fronds of the plant can reach up to an impressive six feet in length.
Angel's Trumpet (Datura stramonium)
An interesting but potentially deadly flower is Angel's Trumpet, also known as Devil's Trumpet or Datura. The plant contains dangerous levels of the poison tropane alkaloids in all its parts, which are known to cause drastic hallucinations and changes in mental status characteristic of delirium. Although attractive, this tropical flower should be admired at a distance.
Allerton Garden Room
Here is the first of many garden rooms. The Allertons had such an eye for architecture that they wanted to create a place for relaxing and entertaining. Graced by walls of greenery and a serene cherub fountain, this area leads into an adjacent room just through the decorative lattice arch.
Muscovy duck
One of Kauai's introduced inhabitants, this Muscovy duck greeted our tour guide and was quite friendly. This species of duck is mostly native to the tropics of Mexico and Central and South America but they are sometimes seen near water areas in Kauai.
Aechmea (Bromeliad) 
A common houseplant in the northeast, Bromeliad can be seen growing in the rain forests of Kauai. Single flower spikes are composed of bright pink bracts that can last for several months. Most bromeliads bloom only once in their lifetime; however, after blooming the plant will begin to form offsets or pups, which are exact clones of the original plant. The new plants mature to produce blooms. 
Diana's Room
Designed by the Allertons, this latticed wood pavilion sitting area overlooking a mossy reflecting pool is known as Diana's Room. The life-sized limestone statue which is a copy of an original Roman work of art, depicts Diana Goddess of the Hunt.
Diana Goddess of the Hunt Allerton Garden Rooms
Diana Roman goddess of the hunt, while primarily associated with hunting, was also looked upon as the goddess of the woods, children and childbirth, fertility, chastity, the moon, and wild animals. Roman worshippers believed that Diana had the power to talk to woodland animals and control their movements and behavior.
Chicken Friend
With no natural predators, chickens are very prominent on Kauai and have gotten very comfortable around people over the years. This one in particular had befriended our tour guide Paul. 
Monstera deliciosa  (Swiss Cheese Plant)
This rather large leaf is that of Monstera deliciosa, also known as Swiss Cheese Plant. Monstera is a species of flowering plant native to the tropical forests of southern Mexico and south to Panama which had been introduced to many tropical areas. It has now become considered an invasive species in Kauai.
Cycad Seed Pods
Native cycads produce these giant prehistoric looking seed cones. Cycads were one of the first per-historic plants known. They were most abundant during the Jurassic Period between 201-145 million years ago.
Three Pools
This beautiful feature is known as Three Pools, a combination of a serene water feature and artwork with a statue of a sleeping horse at the upper level of the sculpture. The statue is an original piece of Hawaiian art by Robert Allerton.
Kauai Wildlife Visitor
Here is another chicken visitor.
 Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) 
With a long Hawaiian history, Breadfruit (Ulu in Hawaiian) was one of the original subsistence plants brought over by early Polynesian settlers. This species of flowering tree in the mulberry and jackfruit  (Moraceae) family is believed to have originated in New Guinea, the Maluku Islands, and the Philippines. Iconic to many Pacific cultures, Ulu the has been grown for thousands of years for its abundant, tasty and nutritious fruits, which taste like freshly baked bread. The starch-rich breadfruit tastes similar to potatoes. 
Ulu (Breadfruit)
Our tour guide Paul explains the history behind this valuable fruit. Since 2003, the NTBG's Breadfruit Institute has been dedicated to the conservation of Ulu and promoting it as a vital tree crop that can help to reduce hunger around the world.
Mermaid Room-Pulse of Water in Fountain Mimics Heartbeat
This well-designed Mermaid Fountain is 100 feet long and constructed with scalloped edges at a three percent angle, with ballasts at the narrow edges, engineered so that the water gushing through will pulse by the time it reaches the other end; thus, mimicking the rate of a heartbeat.
St.Thomas Bean (Entada phaseoloides)
St.Thomas Bean, a member of the pea family, is a large woody vine known for its unusual bundles of thick, twisted stems that spill down like old-fashioned telephone chords from the host tree into which is has grown. Entada produces giant brown seed pods that can reach a length of 2 meters and hold up to 20 dark brown, lens-shaped seeds. The vines and seeds have been extracted and used for soap making and the natural Gugo extract from the bark is rich in saponin, a natural surfactant with deep cleansing properties, which is used as a shampoo. 
Artistic Fountain
Another one of the Allerton fountains is more like a sculpture.
 Bulbophyllum medusae
Medusa's Bulbophyllum, also known as Medusa orchid, is a species of epiphyte orchid that blooms in the fall and winter. It's name was derived from its unusual flowers with long lateral sepals that resemble the snakes in Medusa's hair. 
Etlingera elatior (Torch Ginger)
Torch Ginger flowers are related to ginger, cardamom and turmeric. Although the roots are not edible, the bud is often sliced or shredded and is used as a spice in Malay cuisine. White Torch Ginger prefers a sheltered environment and rich soil and can be often seen in the rainforests of Kauai.
Monstera deliciosa  (Swiss Cheese Plant) Invasive Species
Way above, Swiss Cheese or Split Leaf Philodendron can be seen growing in the rainforest. This evergreen woody vine attaches itself to tree trunks and branches while climbing high up into the rainforest. A single vine can reach more than 70 ft in length. Known to be mildly invasive in Kauai, it is a common houseplant in cooler climates.
Ficus macrophylla (Moreton Bay Fig)
Here is Moreton Bay Fig, also known as or Australian banyan, and a familiar sight from the movie set of Jurassic Park. The trees in Allerton are just 65-70 years old and tower upwards towards 200 feet with a trunk span of 8 feet. The giant banyan-like roots extend much further outwards from this evergreen tree. These trees can live over 200 years.
Moreton Bay Figs Jurassic Park Dinosaur Egg Scene
As you may recall from the movie, Dr. Alan Grant and the kids discover the infamous dinosaur eggs. This is the spot where it all happened, as our tour guide Paul illustrates!
Moreton Bay Figs
These trees and the scenery behind them is absolutely magnificent!
Moreton Bay Figs
This capture will give you an idea of the enormous root system on this plant. The Moreton Bay's buttress roots are mainly for stabilization and serve as a support system for the tree.
Bamboo Room-(Bambusa vulgaris
The Bamboo room features clumping Golden Bamboo, which sways back and forth in the gentle breeze.
Bamboo Room
I have always looked at bamboo as a piece of nature's artwork with its bands of alternating patterns of green and golden hues.
Buddah Statue
This Buddah statue stands at the entrance to the bamboo room.
One of the more serene sights at Allerton is this view of the lagoon present on the property... 
Bridge from Beach
and walking bridge crossing over the picturesque lagoon and to the beach and ocean.
Allerton Beach Site of Nesting Sea Turtles

For further information visit Allerton Gardens.

I hope you enjoyed This Month in the Garden for March. Be sure to stop by on the 1st. of each month for This Month in the Garden, as I share gardening tips, information and horticultural adventures! (Linking with: Floral FridaysMacro Monday 2Our World TuesdayTravel Tuesday, Pictorial TuesdayMy Corner of the World, Friday Photo JournalImage-in-ing Weekly Photo Link-Up and Dishing It & Digging It.)

For gardening information and tips...Visit My Author Page and See My Books:

~As Always...Happy Gardening! ~

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening,© Copyright 2010-2020. All rights reserved.


  1. Interesting to see tropical gardens, Lee. I liked the fige tree and nice chicken visitor. The ulu fruit is amazing one, I've never known about it.I'd like to go on a trip there as well. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It is a beautiful place Nadezda. I am glad you enjoyed the visit!

    2. Happy women's day, Lee!
      I wish you much health, good mood and success in gardening and travel.

    3. Same to you Nadezda! Always love seeing you here!

  2. Beautiful pictures!It is fun to realize that some of those plants are common here,like monsterias,staghorn ferns,bromelias and bamboos.Those trees are stunning and I also loved the amazing landscapes!Hugs!

    1. You are so fortunate to have some of these plants where you live. Here they would mostly be greenhouse or house plants. I can never get enough of these amazing species!

  3. So intresting to see. What a beautiful area ♥

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you Shiju. That means a lot coming from you. Your photography is absolutely amazing! Your captures of the pink flamingos look like artwork.

  5. WOW! Gorgeous photos! The lobster claw is my favourite!

    1. Thank you Veronica! I am also a fan of the Heliconia (Lobster Claw). It does live up to its name with its unique shape!

  6. What a lovely series of tropical images! I like that quirky st thomas bean.

    I'm so happy to see you at 'My Corner of the World' this week!

    My Corner of the World

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the post Betty. Tropical plants in rain forests always have such interesting characteristics!

  7. Photos of Hawaii always make me green with envy - gorgeous!

    1. Aww...I am glad you enjoyed them Carol. I loved your Earth Day post! I have a special interest in forest bathing and even wrote about it in my latest book. There is something about being surrounded by a forest of trees that gives one such a feeling of exhilaration and peacefulness at the same time. The use of natural remedies when possible is also beneficial. There is a long history of the use of plants for treating ailments. Well done!

  8. Hello, beautiful views of the garden and Kauai. The trees are amazing, love the plants. Great photos. Enjoy your day!

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed your visit Eileen. Your photos of the cardinals are so sweet!

  9. Interesting tropical garden! Nice photos!

    1. Thank you Margi. I enjoyed the views of your lovely spring flowers with promise of spring on the way!

  10. Wow! Great, interesting photos!

    1. Welcome to the rain forest Birgitta! I am glad you enjoyed the photos. Your capture of the lovely crocus is beautiful and brightened my day!

  11. Worth a visit just to see the tree roots and the Mermaid Fountain. P. x

    1. I am thrilled you enjoyed the photos Pam. I enjoyed your virtual tour of the Philadelphia Flower show. I am in awe!

  12. Wow! What a trip, in every sense of the world. I am breathless! Thank you!


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!


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