Native Hawaiian Forest Garden
Discover rare botanical treasures steps from your door
Visitors to Hawai‘i invariably marvel at the rich abundance of tropical flora with its gardens of dazzling hibiscus, graceful orchids and tall, stately palms. However, almost none of these plants are native to Hawai‘i and most have been introduced only
in the last two centuries.
Yet even stripped of its modern botanical cornucopia, Hawai‘i is
recognized worldwide as a hotspot of biodiversity, a veritable treasure trove
of highly specialized tropical flora, much of it endemic to these islands—
literally, found nowhere else on earth. Today, roughly a thousand native
Hawaiian plant species survive, many of them listed as threatened and
endangered, imperiled by loss of habitat, disease and aggressive alien plants
and animals, like leaf-chomping ungulates and wild boars.
To experience the extraordinary forms and singular beauty of Hawai‘i’s
native flora, one must usually escape the populated coastal areas and head
for the kuahiwi, or uplands, where Hawaiian species are found in greater
numbers. There is no experience quite like walking through a Hawaiian
forest, but sadly it is a pleasure known by relatively few visitors.
With this in mind, and a commitment to educating its guests about the
uniqueness and fragility of Hawai‘i’s flora, The St. Regis Princeville Resort
has partnered with the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG)
to create a native Hawaiian forest garden along the resort’s main entry
adjacent to the porte cochère. With the greatest of ease, any guest or visitor
can enjoy an intimate look at not only a beautiful, healthy Hawaiian garden,
but also a rare assemblage of plants that the most ardent hiker might never
find even over multiple outings.
The Hawaiian forest garden occupies a relatively small space, less than
600-square-feet, but within its beds are 32 species that include Kaua‘i’s
ground covers like palapalai and kupukupu ferns, low shrubs like naupaka
kuahiwi and the rarely seen fragrant white nänü (Gardenia remyi). Iconic
flowering trees like ‘iliahi (sandalwood) and ‘öhi‘a lehua (Metrosideros
polymorpha) grow alongside the spindly tuft-topped ‘iliau, curiously
reminiscent of the Dr. Seuss’s Truffula trees, and found only on Kaua‘i.