Rare plants for Arbor Day sale

PUA LOKE — Shoppers to the annual Arbor Day Plant Sale need to get to the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife Pua Loke nursery and seed bank if they want some of the limited quantities of maile which will be available 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.

“Everybody is looking for maile,” said Lynlie Waiamau of DLNR. “We have a few that will be available for this year.”

The annual plant sale, celebrating its 48th year since starting in 1968, is held in celebration of Hawaii’s Arbor Day, and features common and rare native plants of Hawaii.

Local floral enthusiasts and rare-plant collectors look forward to the annual event, especially since DOFAW started offering federally listed threatened and endangered plants, native to Hawaii. The plants come from the DOFAW nursery and are used for the state’s various conservation programs.

This year’s sale will feature the delicate, red-flowered koki‘o ‘ula (Hibiscus clayi), historically found in east-facing, dry forests of Nounou and Anahola mountains. This rare hibiscus is endemic to Kauai, meaning it is found nowhere else in the world. Each specimen will bear a numbered tag for authenticity.

Other rare-plant offerings will include the native white hibiscus from Kauai’s North Shore, Hibiscus waimeae variety hanarae, and the miniature green-flowered Hibiscadelphus distans, also known as hau kuahiwi.

Sale attendees will also find an assortment of common native plants for sale, including wili wili, a lowland, dry forest tree found on the leeward sides of the island, with reddish-orange seeds that were traditionally strung into handsome lei; kou, a lowland tree that prefers sunny, warm, coastal areas; and the versatile ‘a‘ali‘i, which can be found growing from mauka to makai.

In addition to encouraging the use of native plants in home landscaping, DOFAW will offer puakenikeni for sale. Fagraea berteroana is a non-invasive exotic, ornamental tree cherished for its fragrant flowers used in lei-making.

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