|The 3 Foragers on the slopes of Haleakala, Maui|
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.
Mango (Mangifera indica) is a fruit tree native to India and introduced in Hawaii in about 1824. It is mostly grown in gardens and yards for its delicious fruit, but there are trees out in the wet valleys and forests that are likely left over from an old garden, or have grown from a discarded pit. Mango trees are very attractive, tall with a rounded crown of evergreen foliage. The leaves are dark green and oblong, 6"-12" long and pointed. The mangoes grow in clusters and ripen in summer, from June through September, depending on the variety. The flesh is wonderfully sweet but sometimes fibrous, and there is a single, flat seed in the center. We saw many trees full of green fruit, but no ripe mangoes. Some people may have an allergic reaction to mangoes, they contain the same chemical that causes poison ivy sensitivity, urushiol.
Blackberries (Rubus species) on Hawaii are non-native alien pests, and in several places they are considered highly invasive and need to be controlled. We came across some enormous, ripe berries in Poli Poli Springs on Maui. They tasted great, but the blackberry canes were very large, and very spiny. On Kauai, people were hiking at Kokee State Park and covered in scratches from the blackberry canes. Hikers are encouraged to report the blackberry infestations to the park employees for removal and control. Blackberries are spread by birds and by underground growth of the roots. While they make a great trailside edible, they do not belong in Hawaii and we can see how they could easily take over whole areas. Blackberries like to grow in disturbed areas like trails and open fields.
|Ohelo 'ai flowers|
|Ohelo 'ai berry|