Canoe plants’ extraordinary journey

PUHI — A free public lecture, “Long Ago and Far Away: the Extraordinary Journey of Hawaii’s Canoe Plants,” will be offered Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at the Kauai Community College Campus Center in Puhi.

Mike DeMotta, curator of living collections at the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), will take the audience on a journey covering thousands of miles and as many years, detailing how some two dozen plant species, many with origins in Southeast Asia, were cultivated and carried by humans as they migrated to Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

Using Hawaiian language and legends, DeMotta will convey the importance of the centuries-old relationships the first Hawaiian people forged with “canoe plants” like uala (sweet potato), kalo (taro), and ko (sugar cane). Drawing on his cultural knowledge and horticultural experience, DeMotta will discuss how NTBG uses canoe plants for education and outreach.

The talk is part of the “What in the World” lecture series.

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