Category Archives: Plants

Naio

A Western Pygmy Blue Butterfly on Myoporum sandwicense (Naio) flower at Kohanaiki Beach Park
Myoporum sandwicense (Naio) at Kohanaiki Beach Park

Naio (Myoporum sandwicense) is an endemic plant that has a variety of forms, from ground cover to tree. The flower color can also vary quite a bit. I’ve seen pinkish purple blooms previously, but these flowers, on a shrubby plant, were all white. Naio used to be common in Hawaii, but now is much less so. It’s known as false sandalwood because the heartwood of the tree form smells similar to true sandalwood.

The butterfly in the top photo is a Western Pygmy Blue butterfly. a native of the Americas, it was first seen in Hawaii in 1978.

Halemaumau Crater

A view of Halemaumau Crater and Jaggar Museum in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The latest eruption at Kilauea Volcano has recently been declared paused. It was never an especially dramatic eruption, but when I went down a few days after it began (here) the sky was illuminated by the activity. In recent weeks though, the lava lake formed by the eruption crusted over completely and lava from the active vent was also hidden from view.

The photos are two views of Halemaumau Crater, taken before this latest eruption. In the top one, the collapsed floor of the crater is on the left. This is what the new lava lake was filling up. On the ridge, to the right side of the photo, is the low profile of the Jaggar Museum, which was closed after the 2018 eruption and likely won’t reopen.

The bottom photo shows the easternmost edge of Halemaumau Crater, which wasn’t greatly impacted by this eruption or the events of 2018. Consequently, the walls of the crater are quite green and the floor is dotted with plants. These plants are mostly ohia trees, which are among the first plants to grow in lava fields, in part because their roots will tap into lava tubes to find moisture and nutrients.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kilauea’s eruptions, go to nps.gov/havo/.

A view of Halemaumau Crater from the Byron Ledge Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Tangerines

Tangerines on a tree in Hawaii

The truth is, I get to cheat on Bushboy’s Last on the Card photo challenge (more responses here). I generally see his post in the late afternoon here since he’s in Australia and many hours ahead of me in Hawaii. That was the case today and when I looked, I found that, for various reasons, I hadn’t taken any photos in more than a week.

So I poked my head outside and immediately thought of the tangerine trees in the yard. One is so heavily laden with fruit that a couple of branches are scraping the ground. Despite the trees looking to be in terrible condition, they fruit prolifically. An interesting fact is that the only flower I’ve ever seen on these trees was an orchid growing at the base of one of the branches. What’s that about?

‘Ilima

An Ilima shrub and flower
An Ilima shrub flower
An Ilima groundcover flower

‘Ilima (Sida fallax) is an indigenous plant that has different forms. It can be a groundcover or a shrub and it can have different colored flowers. The top two photo show the shrub form, while the bottom two are of the groundcover.

I often see this groundcover in the same areas as the Jacquemontia sandwicensis vine.

For more information, go to http://nativeplants.hawaii.edu/plant/view/Sida_fallax.

An Ilima groundcover plant

Road trip to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden

Hualalai volcano seen from Saddle Road in Hawaii
Hualalai Volcano from Old Saddle Road.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Favorite Vacation Spot.’ See more responses here.

It’s been a long while since I took a vacation, but a favorite day out is a road trip to the east side of the island and a visit to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden.

The day starts with a drive out of Hawi, up the hill to Kohala Mountain Road. This winding road climbs to around 3,500 feet before descending into Waimea. One the way, it passes through pastureland that is home to cattle, horses, and sheep.

A few miles after driving through Waimea, there’s a left turn onto Old Saddle Road. These days, the main road across the island is a smooth, wide thoroughfare, but it’s not so long ago that the highway was all like Old Saddle Road – narrow and twisting. In those days, rental car companies would not allow their cars to be driven on that road. Old Saddle Road is the last remnant of the original road and it’s one of my favorite roads to drive here, not just because of the road’s qualities, but because it’s one of the most reliable places to see pueos, the Hawaiian short-eared owl. On this road I drive like one of those people you follow and say ‘What the !@^%$@)&^ is that idiot doing?’ I’m prone to zipping off the tarmac and bolting from the car, camera in hand, snapping photos as I go.

Old Saddle Road joins the new highway a just before it reaches Pohakuloa Training Area, a large military base in the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. It’s not unusual to hear the sound of shells exploding here as they do live ammunition fire. Past this area, there are several good hiking trails that venture into the high elevation landscape. This is one of the best areas for seeing native birds that are still hanging on in much reduced habitat.

After that, there’s the descent into Hilo and then a jog north to the garden where, every time I visit, I see something different, something that wasn’t blooming on previous visits or that I’d just missed in the profusion wonderful plants to see.

And on the way back there’s a good chance that there’ll be a splendid sunset to be enjoyed.

Sunset seen from Saddle Road in Hawaii
Sunset from Old Saddle Road

Also posted for this week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Road Trip.’ See more responses here.