Wednesday, May 25, 2022 |
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PUHI — Not all of the unusual plants are native, and not all of the unusual are plants, but all are related to plants when visiting with George Rosenberger at the Kaua‘i Community Market at Kaua‘i Community College on Saturdays.
“This is about the only place people can get their plants,” said Rosenberger, who lives and farms in ‘Oma‘o . “But the jewelry made out of seeds from the Velvet tree can be found at Red Clay at The Shops at Kukui‘ula.”
Rosenberger, who said his father was known as “The Termite Man” on Kaua‘i because of his reputation as a termite exterminator, said his wife creates the seed jewelry from a Velvet tree they have growing in ‘Oma‘o.
George’s wife, Kerin Lilleeng-Rosenberger, is the author of “Growing Hawai‘i’s Native Plants: A Simple Step-by-Step Approach for Every Species,” a copy of which was in George’s pickup cab for reference to a customer’s query about ferns.
Although Rosenberger’s sign touts “Native Plants,” his collection is not limited to native plants, but also some eye-catching unusual plant, such as a bromeliad that sports bright red tips against a stalk of white buds and a luxuriant green rosette of leaves.
“The red is not the flower,” George said. “In reality, the red attracts the pollinator of the blossom, which is the white part. When the stalk is mature, the red is still brilliant, but the bottom part of the stalk becomes all white.”
Another unusual plant is the ant plant, growing on a slab of rock and resembling a bonsai tree.
Ant plants have a symbiotic relationship with ants, which live in the enlarged stem base called a caudex.
It houses chambers andtunnels connecting to the outside, through which the ants enter the plant.
As the caudex matures, new tunnels and chambers form where the ants raise larvae and pupae in the smooth chambers and deposit waste in the warted chambers, releasing nutrients to help the plant grow.
The ants benefit from a dry, dark place to live, while the plant produces nectar at the base of developing fruits for the ants, who defend the plant by killing leaf-eating catepillars and insects.
Ant plants grow naturally in Southeast Asia and most are epiphytes, similar to orchids, growing on the surface of other plants such as trees.
Rosenberger, who attracted a steady gathering of plant enthusiasts at the Saturday market, said the Kaua‘i Community Market will be closed for New Year’s Eve.
It re-opens on Jan. 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The entrance to the market is closed until Jan. 8 due to the Kaumuali‘i Highway widening project. Shoppers are asked to enter KCC through the Kilohana entrance at Nuhou Street.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.
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