|The 3 Foragers on a black sand beach on Maui|
Every winter we take a trip to some warm, tropical location to escape New England winters. This year we headed to Hawaii, which we thought would become a once-in-a-lifetime trip experience. It turns out, we are already planning to return to this fantastic environment, lush and filled with edible plants, vines, and trees in every forest, beach, and mountainside. We did partake in many typical touristy activities, but we also got just a sample of the wild adventures that we hope to find on future trips.
Plants on Hawaii have many different origins, some indigenous, others alien. Endemic plants are those species that evolved in isolation on the Hawaiian islands and are found nowhere else. Indigenous plants are those that colonized the island before the arrival of humans, such as those that arrive on the winds or over the ocean. Plants introduced by the first travelers to Hawaii, the Polynesians, are regarded as native. Most of these plants have important uses for food, fiber, medicine, and spiritual significance. Alien species are the plants introduced after the late 1700s since contact with European explorers. Some plants were brought purposely, many were accidental weed introductions. Many alien species are escaped cultivated plants and fruit trees, and many are causing damage to the native and less hardy Hawaiian plants. Two alien species we found very often were these guavas, the common guava and the strawberry guava, both edible.
The Koke'e State Park and the trails at Waimea Canyon in Kauai are sadly turning into mono-forests of strawberry guava, but we were able to pick many of these as a nibble. We first encountered them in Maui on the Waikamoi Ridge Trail, where the forest was thick with strawberry guava trees. There were so many ripe guavas fermenting on the forest floor, Robert said it smelled like someone was making wine.