Hawaii is home to a rich ecosystem, and its native plants are some of the most important aspects. Some are beautiful, while others are integral to supporting other systems, which is why the staff at The Garden Exchange—the premier gardening store in Hilo, HI,—wants to explain their importance, as well as how you can incorporate them into your garden at home. This will ensure you take the proper steps to not only preserve local flora, but also help it thrive.
Native Hawaiian Plants
There are two types of native plants: endemic and indigenous. Indigenous plants, while naturally occurring, can be found elsewhere in the world, whereas endemic plants—like Hawaii’s lehua mamo tree and the Hawaii silversword—are found exclusively in one area. Hawaii is home to a large and diverse collection of endemic plants because of its isolated location. You’ll find trees like the pritchardia—a fan palm—and olapa, and shrubs such as the Kalalau rim dubautia and akia.
Most notable is Hawaii’s expansive family of rare and beautiful flowering plants. A large number come from the dubautia family, including the waihiawa bog dubautia and plantainleaf budautia, and they are accompanied by others such as the Hawaiian iliau and mamane. Many of these are central parts of the island's identity, as well as an important resource for local wildlife.
Why Are They Important?
Aside from contributing to and supporting the local ecosystem, endemic plants are used in a number of ways. They can be used as foods, have medicinal properties, and also play a role in manufacturing and industrial business. They can also help regulate pests, which reduces the need for pesticides and other harmful chemicals in the wild. Unfortunately, many are classified as endangered or critically endangered, such as the yellow hibiscus and alulu. Without proper care and preservation, they may go the way of the cynae superba, which is extinct in the wild.
Which Can I Add to My Garden?
Both endemic and indigenous Hawaiian plants can be stunning additions to home gardens. Some of the most popular are the bird of paradise, of which there are several species to choose from, one of over 200 species of hibiscus flowers, and orchids. Each requires specific care, so speak with gardening store professionals before taking them home.
If you’re interested in adding Hawaiian plants or others to your home garden, turn to The Garden Exchange. They carry a wide selection of plants and lawn care products at their gardening store. With over 40 years of experience, they can provide all the gardening supplies and advice you need. Call (808) 961-2875 today to speak with their staff, and visit their website to explore their selection.