Kauai is known as the Garden Island and boasts to be the greenest and most lush compared to all of the other Hawaiian islands. On Kauai, one of the wettest spots on Earth is located at Wai’aleale. The natural water shed provides Kauai’s landscape to be filled with many different plants. But what plants are native? Native in a sense, that it was not brought over by humans, but rather carried over by wind, birds and/or ocean currents.
It is rather difficult to tell if a plant that you see on Kauai is native or brought by humans. By exploring the island, you will see many of these different native plants throughout your stay. However, a visit to the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, Na Aina Kai or at Ananaina Hou could help you to get a better understanding that many of the plants are non-native and can be easily mistaken for a native species. As you learn abut the native species of plants that exist on Kauai, an awareness of how dangerous invasive plants are endangering our native species helps to make sure that we do our best to keep these native plants alive for our keiki and their keiki. We learn about the many medicinal uses that these plants had for our ancestors and how these plants play an important role for the ecosystem that we live in. We hear legends that had connections to native plants and stories of how these native plants survived throughout the years. We gain a better understanding of the landscape around us and an appreciation for our own ties to mother nature.