August 28, 2013

Plants that Caught My Eye

The beautiful rainbow shower tree is always a welcome sight. It really says something about Hawaii that this tree is simply planted on sidewalks and parking lots. I imagine a Hawaiian flying to Tokyo and being shocked by the lack of natural life, and in certain areas, the endless array of gray buildings.

They also come in yellow.

 Amazingly, these trees are propagated by graft, because they do not produce any seeds!

The noni plant. The fruit apparently smells horrible, but is known for its medicinal effects.

An unexpected little burst of flower.

Naupaka kahakai, a plant native to Hawaii.

I was initially drawn to the unusual half-flowers, and lo, it has its own Hawaiian legend:
"In ancient times, one version goes, there was a beautiful Hawaiian princess known as Naupaka. One day, the villagers noticed that Naupaka looked very sad. They told her parents, who approached Naupaka and asked her what was troubling her.

'I have fallen in love with a man named Kaui,' replied the princess.' But Kaui is not of noble birth—he is a commoner.' According to Hawaiian tradition, it was strictly forbidden for members of royalty to marry people from the common ranks.

Distressed, Naupaka and Kaui traveled long and far, seeking a solution to their dilemma. They climbed up a mountain to see a kahuna who was staying at a heiau (temple). Alas, he had no clear answer for the young lovers. 'There is nothing I can do,' he told them, 'but you should pray. Pray at this heiau.'

So they did. And as they prayed, rain began to fall. Their hearts torn by sorrow, Naupaka and Kaui embraced for a final time. Then Naupaka took a flower from her ear and tore it in half, giving one half to Kaui. 'The gods won’t allow us to be together,' she said. 'You go live down by the water, while I will stay up here in the mountains.'

As the two lovers separated, the naupaka plants that grew nearby saw how sad they were. The very next day, they began to bloom in only half flowers."

Without seeing what the flower looks like in bloom, it's heard to research the name of this plant.

Spotted this tree from the backseat of the car.

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