Category Archives: Plants


A gourd or ipu plant in Hawaii

Ipu is the Hawaiian word for the gourd (Langenaria sacraria). The early Polynesians brought the seeds to Hawaii and also used the hollowed out gourds on the voyage, for storing water, food, and other items, and to bail out the canoes.

These days, the gourds are used to make musical instruments that are used in dances and in chants. The plant is a climbing vine and the gourds are the fruit of this vine.

Ruby wine

Pu'uanahulu Baptist Church on the Big Island, Hawaii
A Fire extinguisher holder on a colorful building in Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Color Challenge: Ruby wine.’ See more responses here. Terri described ruby wine as ‘burgundy-brownish’ and included a handy color match, which I’ve made use of here.

The top photo shows exterior of the Pu’uanahulu Baptist Church. The second photo features a fire extinguisher on a colorful wall. I liked the reflections in glass of the cabinet. The bottom photo features another church, this time the interior of the Painted Church south of Captain Cook.

The interior of the Painted Church on the Big Island, Hawaii


Akia leaves, flowers and berries
Akia berries and leaves

Akia (Wikstroemia uva-ursi) is an endemic plant that’s quite rare in the wild, but is used quite a bit in landscaping here. The shrub, which grows to three or four feet high, is hardy, drought-tolerant, and not prone to pest problems. Its distinctive oval leaves, clusters of yellow flowers, and red or orange fruits add visual interest.


The flowers of a candlenut or kukui tree in Hawaii
The flowers of a candlenut or kukui tree in Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Leaves and Trees.’ See more responses here.

Candlenut (Aleurites moluccana) is known as Kukui in Hawaii. It’s a canoe plant, brought to Hawaii by the early Polynesian settlers. The tree can grow to around 60 feet tall but is usually shorter. Large clusters of small white flowers are followed by round nuts, which can be seen at the top of the second photo.

The tree had many uses. Oil was extracted from the nuts for various uses and the nuts themselves were burned for lighting, hence the name. Roasted nuts are edible and were used for flavoring. Raw nuts are a potent laxative. The plants had several other uses, both decorative and medicinal.

Because of this versatility and cultural background, Kukui was named the state tree of Hawaii in 1959, replacing the coconut palm. It’s the only state to have a non-indigenous state tree.

Barleria repens

A red Barleria repens flower

Barleria repens has a variety of names including Coral Creeper and Creeping Barleria. This gives some idea of the kind of plant, though it can also grow as a rounded shrub and a vine. What got my attention was the pale purple anthers standing out against the otherwise red flower.