Both sites of the Hawai‘i Kona team went to the Amy Greenwell Ethno botanical Garden for a huaka‘i in March. The focus of this 15-acre botanical garden is Hawaiian ethno botany: the study of the Hawaiian people and their plants. The garden is named for kama‘āina botanist Amy Greenwell.
At the garden, we all got to see over 200 species of plants that grew in the traditional farms and native forests of Kona before Captain Cook arrived in the late 18th century. There are endemic, indigenous, and Polynesian introduced plants. These include the most important plants in Hawaiian culture, such as taro and kukui, and scores of rare and endangered native species such as the beautiful koki‘o.
Keiki and caregivers were able to explore the gardens and see a variety of native Hawaiian plants that are rarely seen growing in the wild. We saw loulu trees, native Hawaiian Hibiscus flowers, pili grass and more! The walk through the gardens was very educational and fun. We learned that the pili grass was used by ancient Hawaiians to make thatched roofs, and it gave the house a pleasing look and smell.
Keiki even got to see an I‘o that landed way up high in one of the trees. One of our tour guides caught a very interesting non-native creature for the keiki to take a closer look at. A Jackson Chameleon was climbing up one of the trees!
This hands-on learning experience was great for both the keiki and caregivers, to get to see, touch, smell and discover all of the wonderful plants that grow in our environment. We learned that many of the plants are endangered and need to be given special care so that future generations will be able to enjoy them as well.