This morning brought me to the North Shore, and a fabulous walk to Ka'ena Point from the Mokule‘ia side. The westernmost tip of Oahu, Ka'ena Point has been known as the leaping off place for souls ready to be reunited with their loved ones. It's also a great place to get reunited with Hawaii's native plants, in one of the few protected coastal dune ecosystems we have. Today's post features a few of these plants that are living happily together in this sacred area, and as a side note, all of them are also growing on Kaho'olawe!
'Ohai, Sesbania tomentosa: Happy day to see this endangered, endemic plant thriving here. In this environment, its form is a sprawling shrub. One look at 'ohai and you can see it is in the pea family. The leaves are light grey-green that add such a beautiful color and texture contrast to the shinier and brighter green of the naupaka it was snuggled up against. The pop of red-orange of the flowers is icing on the cake.
Pohuehue, Seaside Morning Glory, Ipomoea pes-caprae subsp. brasiliensis: The ultimate Hawaiian sunbather, this indigenous plant thrives in full sun on hot and sandy dunes. Its vining nature actually helps to control erosion, and its beautiful bell-shaped flower lasts but one day. The species name, pes-caprae, translates to goat foot, referencing the shape of the leaves.
`Ilima papa, Sida falax: As with its fellow plants at Ka'ena Point, ilima papa is sun, drought, and wind tolerant. The light green leaves are thick and downy to preserve water, and they are as soft as can be! The beautiful yellow to orange flowers are delicate, and most striking when strung into a lei. In the 1920's, ilima was made the official flower of Oahu.
Naupaka kahakai, Scaevola sericea: A real winner in the xeric plant category, this naupaka is hardy to the max, with thick and shiny leaves that help it to survive with little water. They have tiny whitish "half-flowers" that are followed by white, marble-like fruits. This indigenous species is the only one of the native naupakas to bear the white fruit; others have a purple fruit.
Naio, Myoporum sandwicense: Along the beach, the endemic naio takes on a shrubby form, and is easily identified by its lance-like and fleshy leaves. The whitish to pinkish flowers are nestled close to the branches, bloom throughout the year, and may have a fragrance similar to that of sandalwood. In fact, this plant is also known as false sandalwood, as it was attempted to be passed off for the real thing when supplies of sandalwood dwindled.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.