Field of Science

Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden

Yesterday the Phactors visited the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden just north of Hilo.  It's a remarkable garden, the more so because as recently as 1977 this was a valley on Onomea Bay overgrown with invasive vegetation. That's when Dan Lutkenhouse bought the land and began hacking the garden out of the tangle. There are a large number of tropical ornamental plants that are well displayed and fortunately several worthy plants that were already present were preserved including the biggest mango tree TPP has ever seen. The labelling was well done, and TPP only had to research one or two things later to figure out what they were. Several plants were new to both of us.

It's quite a walkable garden but the valley is quite steep, even the initial boardwalk, quite an engineering feat, is quite steep while the lower portions of the garden paths were gentle enough with few stairs. People unable to handle the board walk are ferried down the steep entrance, sometimes including their wheel chair or walker, in golf carts.
This garden may have more shady understory plants than anywhere, they certainly have the most extensive use of the clubmoss Selaginella as a ground cover. An explanatory sign was needed for a nice stand of Angiopteris (a fern dating back to the Carboniferous). They also have an unidentified fossil of one of its relatives in their little museum. Make the connection please.  Now to tease you with something pretty a flowering liana in the Bignon family (Tecomanthe dendrophila), usually all you see of such lianas are the corollas after they drop to the ground from the canopy. These flowers are 5-6" long. Imagine what you'll get for the FFF!


Anonymous said...

Dearest Phactor,

whilst there are many fossil Marattiales from the Pennsylvanian (Carboniferous), I believe that the earliest fossils of Angiopteris per se are from the Jurassic of England.



The Phytophactor said...

Correct, wasn't clear the fossil was in the same family, not in the same genus. Thanks for the reminder.