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    Plant Overview

    Hawai'i is the most isolated land mass on the planet. At 2,500 miles from any other land, it has developed a unique and fragile ecosystem with over 3,000 native species of plants and animals, many of which are endangered or near extinction. Hawai'i has six vegetation zones: coastal, lowland rain forest, montane rain forest, subalpine, alpine, and dry leeward, another feature that makes the Big Island unique and a great place of bio-diversity.

    Many of the plants that one would normally equate with Hawai'i aren't native at all. Pineapple and sugar cane were brought to the islands as a cash crop and many other plants were brought as ornamentels. Hawai'i spends millions of dollars each year trying to keep invasive species from crowding out native plants and animals.


    Edible Plants

    The Big Island produces all sorts of exotic fruits. One of the best ways to sample them is to visit the Hilo Farmer's Market (Wednesdays and Saturdays - get there early). At the Farmer's Market, you'll see bananas, mango, papayas and pineapple, but not just the same ones you see in mainland stores. You'll have your choice of about each variety. So you won't be buying just regular bananas, you might get apple bananas or finger bananas. The best mangoes are the Hayden variety. Other exotic fruit include lychee, rambutan, longan and mangosteen. Some edible plants that you'll see when hiking are guava, strawberry guave, passionfruit (lilikoi) and 'ōhelo berries.

    To find details about any edible plant listed below simply click the picture or the plant name.
    Liliko'i
    Passiflora
    edulis Sims
        Kona Typica
    Coffee
        Lychee
    Litchi
    chinensis
    Mountain Apple
    Eugenia
    malaccensis
        'Ōhelo
    Vaccinium
    reticulatum
        Star Apple
    Chrysophyllum
    cainito
       


    Flowers & Non-Edible Plants

    The Orchid Isle is not just another idle name for the Big Island - indeed, orchids abound on the Big Island - mainly due to the humid yet cooler climate on the east side. But the Orchid Isle is much more than just a home to orchids - over 1,800 types of flowering plants live here. Most of the plants have been brought in over the years as ornamentals and from there entered the wild.

    To find details about any flower listed below simply click the picture or the flower name.
    Aloalo
    Hibiscus
    (various)
        Anthurium
    Anthurium
    acaule
        Blue Jade Vine
    Strongylodon
    macrobotrys
    Cup of Gold
    Solandra
    maxima
        Kāhili Ginger
    Hedychium
    gardnerianum
        Naupaka Kahakai
    Scaevola
    taccada
    Plumeria
    (various)
        Pōpōhau
    Hydrangea
    macrophylla
        Pukanawila
    Nyctaginaceae
    Bougainvillea
    Pūkiawe
    Styphelia
    tameiameiae
        Red Ginger
    Alpinia
    purpurata
        Red Jade Vine
    Mucuna
    bennettii
    Silversword
    Argyroxiphium
    sandwicense
        White Shrimp Plant
    Justicia
    betonica
       


    Trees

    The Hawaiian Islands are home to thousands of species of trees, more than anywhere else in the world and far more than we could possibly document here. Below, however, we have listed information about some of the more important, common and interesting trees that can be found on the Island.

    To find details about any tree listed below simply click the picture or the tree name.
    Autograph Tree
    Clusia rosea
        Casurina Tree
    Casuarinaceae
    equisetifolia
        Hala Tree
    Pandanus
    odoratissimus
    Koa
    Acacia koa
        Māmane Tree
    Sophora
    chrysophylla
        Magnolia
    Magnolia sp.
    'Ōhi'a 'ai
    Eugenia
    malaccensis
        'Ōhi'a Lehua
    Metrosideros
    polymorpha
        Plumeria
    (various)


    Ferns

    Ferns are found everywhere on the Hawaiian Islands, and the Big Island is no exception. Approximatly 170 native fern species grow in Hawai'i and about 65% of them are endemic (not found anywhere else in the world). Ferns were used for many items including hats, stuffing for pillow, food and medicine.

    To find details about any fern listed below simply click the picture or the fern name.
    'Ama'u
    Sadleria
    cyatheoides
        'Ēkaha
    (Bird's Nest)

    Asplenium nidus
        Hāpu'u
    Cibotium
    splendens
    Palapalai
    Microlepia
    strigosa
        Uluhe
    Dicranopteris
    linearis
       


    Grass and Sedge

    There are many varieties of grass and sedge in Hawai'i. Some varieties are native while many others were brought in as cattle feed.

    To find details about any grass listed below simply click the picture or the grass name.
    Kili'o'opu
    Kyllinga
    brevifolia
        Sedge
    Pycreus
    polystachyos
       


    Invasive plants

    Many plants have been brought to Hawai'i as ornamentals or as food sources for livestock. In many cases the plants grow extremely well in the tropics and have a tendency to get out of control and spread. For example, the South American Banana Poka is a vine that kills native plants in Hawai'i's rainforest by suffocating them. Another plant invader from South America that is considered as one of the most dangerous threats to Hawai'i's ecosystems is the Miconia. In Tahiti the Miconia is called the brown tree snake of the plant world because it can choke out many native plants.

    If you make a positive identification of any of the plants below, growing on PUBLIC land, either destroy the plant or contact authorities. (Do not touch plants growing on private land.)

    To find details about any invasive plant listed below simply click the picture or the plant name.
    Autograph Tree
    Clusia rosea
        Cup of Gold
    Solandra
    maxima
        Kāhili Flower
    Grevillea
    banksii
    Kāhili Ginger
    Hedychium
    gardnerianum
        Koster's Curse
    Clidemia
    hirta
        Miconia
    Miconia calvescens
    Nani ahiahi
    Allamanda cathartica
       

     


    Creatures Overview

    Hawai'i has only one native land mammal, the Hawaiian Hoary Bat. The fact that it is isolated by 2,500 miles of ocean from land meant that it was impossible for most land mammals to survive any random journey. The few mammals Hawai'i has today, such as the feral pig, mongoose and rat are the result of human contact. Also missing from Hawai'i are snakes. Hawai'i actually has one snake, which looks more like a worm than a snake - but no other snakes are found on any of the island (and the state goes to great pains to ensure it stays that way).

    What Hawai'i lacks in land mammals, it more than makes up with birds, insect and ocean dwellers. With more than 200 native fish, 10,000 native insects and over 1,000 types of land snails the islands are teaming with rare and beautiful creatures.

    Birds

    Among the birds found in Hawai'i are several species of Hawaiian Honeycreeper most of which are endangered, Hawaiian Duck or Koloa, Hawaiian Coot, and Lysan albatross. A very awe inspiring bird is Pueo, the Hawaiian Owl (Asio flammeus sandwicensis), it is an interesting owl because it is active during the day and can often be seen above the pastures of Waimea. Birds imported to Hawai'i include mynas, sparrows, cardinals, and doves.

    To find details about any bird listed below simply click the picture or the bird name.
    Erckel's Francolin
    Francolinus
    erckelii
        Kalij Pheasant
    Lophura
    leucomelanos
        Nēnē
    Nesochen
    sandvicensis
    Noio
    Anous minutus
    melanogenys
        Northern Cardinal
    Cardinalis cardinalis
        Pueo
    (Hawaiian Owl)
    Asio flammeus

    Marine Life

    Hawai'i is home to exotic and colorful marine life. From the state fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapua`a (Rhinecanthus rectangulu ) to the Humpback Whale (the official state marine mammal) Hawai'i has diversified ocean life.

    Many species, such as the various turtles that inhabit Hawai'i, are protected as endangered animals and approaching them or harassing them is illegal. Some species of marine life in Hawai'i are not only beautiful but can also be dangerous, such as Cone Snails, Moray Eels, Scorpion and Lion Fish, and of course sharks (though Hawai'i has a low rate of shark attacks).

    To find details about any creature listed below simply click the picture or the name.
    Honu'ea
    (Hawksbill Turtle)
    Eretmochelys
    imbricata
        Kihikihi
    (Moorish Idol)
    Zanclus
    cornutus
        Kīkākapu
    (Raccoon Butterflyfish)
    Chaetodon
    lunula
    Manini
    (Convict Tang)
    Acanhurus
    sandvicensis
        'Ulae
    (Lizardfish)
    Synodus 'ulae
       

    Reptiles & Amphibians & Snails

    The Hawaiian islands (and surrounding waters) are home to five species of amphibians and 28 species of reptiles - and of these only five species are indigenous.

    There are two species of snakes in Hawai'i... a poisonous sea snake, and a non-poisonous land snake which is so small most people think it is a worm. There are no other snakes in Hawai'i (and most literature you read says there are absolutly NO snakes in Hawai'i, but they overlook the tiny native snake). Hawai'i strictly enforces the no-snake rule and planes are frequently inspected for snakes (especially from Guam). If snakes make it to Hawai'i they would destroy the fragile ecosystem as well as endanger many native and indigenous species.

    The Islands of Hawai'i also was home to over 750 species of Land and Tree Snails, many of which are now extinct or endangered.

    To find details about any animal listed below simply click the picture or the animal name.
    Coqui Frog
    Eleutherodactylus
    coqui
        Giant Bufo Toad
    Bufo marinus
        Gold Dust Day Gecko
    Phelsuma
    laticauda laticauda
    Green Anole
    Anolis
    carolinensis
       

    Insects & Arachnids

    There are lots of insects and arachnids in Hawai'i. One of the most famous are the Hawaiian Happyface spider. One very destructive insect is the termite. There are many endemic species of moths on the Big Island, some of which are thought to be able to detect the calls of one of their biggest predator, the Hoary Bat.

    To find details about any insect listed below simply click the picture or the insect name.
    Cane Spider
    Heteropoda
    venatoria
        Cockroach
    Periplaneta
    americana
        Praying Mantid
    Tenodera
    aridifolia
    sinensis
    Walkingstick
    unknown
       

    Mammals

    Hawai'i has only two native mammals: the Hawaiian monk seal or Ilio holo kai, (Monachus schauinslandi) and the Hawaiian hoary bat, Ope'ape'a(Lasiurus cinereus semotus). While the Monk Seal is mostly found on the remote, unihabitated islands and atolls of the northwest islands, about 25 Monk Seals do live on Kaua'i and in 2005, a Monk Seal was found in a secluded bay along the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island, giving birth to her pups. The Hoary bat is nocturnal and roosts during the day in trees. The Big Island has one of the biggest populations of the bats. They are found in dry and wet areas, and from sea level to 13,000 ft. They eat moths, mosquitoes, beetles, flies, crickets, and stink bugs

    Polynesion immigrants later brought pigs. Horses, goats, sheep, European pigs and cattle were brought by European settlers. Many of these animals, especially the European pig, have caused extensive problem endangering many plant and animal species.

    One imported mammal that hard to miss is the "Hawaiian squirrel", the Small Asian Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus). Often seen running across the road, the mongoose was brought to the Hawaiian Islands in 1883 to control rats. However, it was an ill-conceived idea as rats are nocturnal and the mongoose is a daytime creature. The mongoose is credited with endangering various bird species as they eat the eggs and fledglings of ground-nesting birds.

    To find details about any mammal listed below simply click the picture or the mammal name.
    Small Asian Mongoose
    Herpestes javanicus
        Mountain Goat
    Capra hircus
       
    cover
    Hawaiian
    Heritage
    Plants

    cover
    Plants and Flowers
    of Hawaii

    cover
    A Pocket Guide
    to Hawaii's Flowers

    cover
    Trees of Hawai'i

    cover
    Hawaiian Plants
    and Animals
    Coloring Book

    cover
    The Birdwatcher's
    Guide to Hawai'i

    cover
    A Pocket Guide
    to Hawai'i's Birds

    cover
    Hawai'i's Fishes:
    A Guide for
    Snorkelers,
    Divers, and
    Aquarists

    cover
    An Underwater
    Guide to Hawai'i

    cover
    Hawaiian Plants
    and Animals
    Coloring Book


    Beautiful Birds
    of Hawai'i
    Coloring Book


    Fishes of Hawai'i
    Coloring Book


    Native Animals
    of Hawai'i
    Coloring Book


    Exotic Animals
    of Hawai'i
    Coloring Book


    Endangered Animals
    of Hawai'i
    Coloring Book

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