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.
I’ve made a couple of recent visits to the Palila Forest Discovery Trail, on the slopes of Mauna Kea, in search of palilas, an endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper. On one of those visits I was lucky enough to see this bird.
I wrote here about the first time I saw palilas, in late 2017. Those birds were feeding on immature mamane seed pods, one of their main foods. But the bird in this photo has what I think is a naio flower in its grip. The fruits and flowers of naio, otherwise known as false sandalwood, are the other main foods of the palila.
Naio (Myoporum sandwicense) used to grow in great abundance in Hawaii, but now is much less common. It has some similarities to true sandalwood and was passed off as the latter without much success, leading to it’s other names of false sandalwood or, less sympathetically, bastard sandalwood.
This small tree was found growing on the lower slopes of Mauna Kea.