Hello Friends and Family,

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Maui Flora

One of the visual treats enjoyed while visiting Hawai`i is the beautiful and showy flowers that one sees everywhere. One of my personal favorites is the Royal Poinciana Tree. I love Wikipedia's description — "The tree's vivid red/vermilion/orange/yellow flowers and bright green foliage make it an exceptionally striking sight" — and I consider that an understatement.

It is native to Madagascar where it is now endangered in the wild. The tree grows to a modest height while spreading its branches widely. Together with the fern-like leaves, it provides valuable cooling shade in tropical areas.

The African Tulip tree is native to Africa and thrives in rainforest areas. It has propagated itself all over the islands and is considered an invasive species. In fact, I saw it described as a "beautiful weed".

The Rainbow Shower tree is actually a hybrid of the Golden Shower tree from India and the Pink-and-White Shower tree from Java and Sumatra. Because it is a hybrid that does not generally produce fertile seeds, it is not considered an invasive species.

The clusters of flowers are spectacular, blooming primarily during the summer months. This tree is the official street tree of Honolulu.

I have shared photos of banana trees already from this trip but I had to share one more. This one is just outside the sliding glass door of a condo at Napili Point. Nice treat, wake up in the morning and grab a banana from your personal tree just outside your unit. Too bad they are all still green.

The Natal Plum is a common landscaping plant, not just in Hawai`i but also in Arizona, Florida and California (probably elsewhere as well). It is native to the coastal region of Natal, South Africa.

The flowers are mildly fragrant but often grown in long hedges in Hawai`i resulting in a wonderful perfume as one walks by. The fruit is edible and its taste is said to remind one of strawberry.

Bougainvillea grows in similar climates to the Natal Plum and produces colorful bracts which often frame the beautiful scenery which one finds everywhere in Hawai`i — here looking toward Moloka`i across the Pailolo Channel — one of the windiest and roughest of the Hawaiian Island channels. The bracts vary in color — red, orange, pink, purple, white and probably others that I have not yet encountered. Bougainvillea does actually produce flowers but they are tiny white ones that are outshone by the bracts. Oh, and do watch out for the thorns.

The one flower that is almost synonymous with Hawai`i is the Plumeria — although they are native to Central America, the Caribbean and the warmer parts of South America. For those of you who have traveled to the islands, you may have been greeted with a flower lei made of sweet-smelling Plumeria blossoms.

The home that I rented in Kihei (during my one-year residence on Maui) had two Plumeria trees in the back yard. When I had guests, I would gather up blossoms and string them using a long wire together with strong cord. Cheap, fragrant and warmly received.

There are more than 300 named varieties of Plumeria. Most, if not all, varieties have flowers with exactly five petals. But the variance in the colors and coloration is astounding — above, cream white with yellow centers, here white with yellow centers and pink backsides...

Pink and white with yellow centers...

Yellow with white fringes...

Red, yellow and white...

Rose and white with red centers. Ah, sweet paradise.


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com