One of the things I most love about nature, and botany in particular, is that every time I think I really have a grasp on a group or class nature flips me on my head and shows me there is so much more to learn. Tropical botany is one of my favorite hobbies and fortunately there is a lot to learn in that area. I love tropical plants, fruit plants in particular, but especially ones that have unique uses from simple beauty to practical application.


If this was a Florida avocado this size wouldn’t phase me, but have you ever seen a haas avocado this big?!!!

So, that is why I was so excited to visit the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe, on Oahu last weekend! I have been wanting to go here forever! A few years back, my partner was staying with a friend of ours who lived in the neighborhood of the garden and he told me so many wonderful stories about how much I’d love the garden and finally I got to go!!!


This is the road walking up to the garden’s visitor center. Pretty stunning I’d say!!

In Hawaiian, Ho’omaluhia means to “make a place of peace and tranquility” and they chose the name perfectly. 40o acres set against the Ko’olau mountain and an incredible (and quick by bus) escape from busy Honolulu, this garden is not your average stuffy botanical garden.

They offer lots of fun events for families and children like fishing workshops and camping on the weekends, picnicing, wonderful walking trails through all the tropical plants, educational exhibits in the visitor center, and guided tours focusing on rainforest plants, nature exploration, and Hawaiian ethnobotany.


The garden provides the fishing homemade bamboo fishing poles and they teach the kids how to use them.

All that aside, my favorite part was that I discovered new plants and got to enjoy some old favorites!!! Check ’em out!


This is the fruit of the lipstick tree (Bixa orellana). It’s an old fave I first discovered in the Grenadines and it is so fun!! You can rub the red off the seeds and use it as funny lipstick or color anything red you would like!! It is also known as the spice annato and is used in cosmetics and as dye.


I have seen lots of heliconias, and some fuzzy plants, but never a truly furry one!! These are totally covered in soft fur just like an animal!


These are some small fruits from the blue marble tree (Elaeocarpus angustifolius). I have never even heard of this before!! These are some tiny ones I found still on and under the tree, but the samples they had in the visitor center were about the size of the big marble in a bag of marbles and were a blue I have never seen naturally occurring. The photo doesn’t do the color justice. The fruits are edible, but bitter, and unfortunately I didn’t get to taste one this time. I am really excited to get to know more about this tree!!


Post fishing family strolls through the beauty!

Ho’omaluhia is a magical place where humans, cultivated and wild nature truly make peace and find tranquility. The huge mountains surrounding the garden make you feel nestled in by ancient history, while the world’s tropical plants remind you of our amazing web of life. And I even saw two mongoose running around and two small wild pigs rooting around in the mud!

What in nature continues to surprise you? Share in the comments below!

Share pics of your nature discoveries on Instagram #wingswormsandwonder

Seeds to Sprout:

Learn more about the garden and it’s offerings of fishing, camping, and events from the City of  Honolulu here.

Learn about volunteering at the garden, botanical links, tours, and more from the Friends of Honolulu Botanical Gardens site .

I found that humongous avocado at the Kaka’ako Farmers Market in Honolulu. Visiting a farmer’s market is a great way to get to know local plants and their fruits and veggies as well as to get a feel for the local community. If you’re visiting Oahu, or live here but are just getting into farmer’s market shopping, check out this great resource for farmers markets!


I’ll say!!


Although most plants in the garden are labeled with common and latin names, I never did discover the name of this new beauty. If you know, let me know!!

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