Plants, plants, and more plants on Kauai, Hawaii

Last updated on May 28th, 2020

The visitor center for the National Tropical Botanical Garden is located not far down the road from us, in a fancy neighborhood.

While the Visitors’ Center is located on a relatively small piece of land, it sports a wonderful variety of colorful plants, plants both native to Hawaii and introduced.

We are here though to visit the McBryde Garden, which is reached via a tram. Along the way we mostly see invasive, prickly, non-native vegetation like the prickly pencil plant that rewards those that have the misfortune of coming in contact with it with serious burns.

Cattle ranchers planted it because it made a good fence and the plant has since spread like crazy. (Couldn’t they have thrown up some barbed wire instead?)

Likewise the lush grass crowding the road is another unfortunate import – a low-growing cattle fodder in more temperate climates, in Hawaii it becomes and invasive, inedible, 10-plus foot monster. Another bit of Hawaii’s carpet of disastrous botanical mistakes.

Not all the horticultural news is bad though, as the McBryde Garden is located just up the mountain from the lovingly manicured Allerton Garden (which we didn’t get to) – of which we get a few lovely fleeting glimpses.

(Next time I’m going to visit there too!)

The McBryde garden is a research facility with a mix of native Hawaiian plants, “canoe plants” (breadfruit, taro, and the other plants brought over by the first Polynesian immigrants to provide food and medicine), and more recently introduced decorative species. The plants share this Eden with a tree filled with cattle egrets and just a very few human visitors.

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