2013 Trip Two, Day Five Kauai

Limahuli Garden

Limahuli Garden

The Hawaiians were models of sustainability from which we can all learn. This was the enduring mantra of Limahuli Garden, one of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, which we visited today. (McBryde which we saw Sunday was another.)

Limahuli is at the end of the road in NW Kauai, about a 75 minute drive from our lodging. It overlooks the ocean and is next to the mountain used to portray Bali Hai in the movie South Pacific. Our guide for the 2.75 hour tour was a former director of the garden and a descendant of one of the families that banded together to deed the property over to the Garden in trust.

Before the Europeans “discovered” Hawaii, 250,000 to 500,000 people lived here. They managed their food sources by an ingenious cooperation that divided the land into pie shaped areas of control. Each group received land stretching from the mountain top out into the ocean. This allowed them to have access to the full range of water, fish, crops, etc that could be grown and harvested. They even had rules that made each group not harvest two types of fish. This allowed each species an area in which to safely propagate and then move out into neighboring spheres of influence where they could be caught for food. As shown above, the islanders used terrace farming to use all available land to grow crops.

The tour topics included the various plants brought here by the people from the Marquessa Islands and from Tahiti,along with their navigational skills to cross 2500 miles to get here-not once but over 600 times. We learnt about the multiple uses of plants and the quick and unplanned influence new,invasive species can have.

One story. The South Pacific people who came here brought along 4 types of animals. Chicken, dogs, pigs and rats. Since the travelers were in their boats for months, the rats were used for food since they propagate much fsster than the other three animals. When the Europeans were raising sugar, the rats ate the bottom area of the plant, killing it. The mongoose was introduced to catch and kill the rats and save the harvest.

Unfortunately, the mongoose and rat travel about at different times of the day and the mongoose ended up doing more damage to birds, and other animals. Thus, the rat population was not eradicated but the number of birds and chickens were greatly reduced. EXCEPT, on Kauai, the mongoose were not allowed to be imported which is why only on this lovely island do we see, and hear, the chickens and roosters everywhere.

The garden was described as a “masculine” garden. It works to save and re-introduce native plants. Flowers are not a focus although many of the plants bloom at some time of the year. Limahuli also highlights the use of some of the invasive species like the Cook pine trees which were planted on most of the Pacific islands to provide for replacement masts for sailing ships. (See below.)

Cook's pine

Cook’s pine

After the tour and lunch nearby, we visited Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge. As in most places, the lighthouse while still standing has been replaced by a more modern signaling device.

Off shore, we observed several whales but were unable to have any photographic proof. The distance and brief surfacing combined to make it impossible. You will have to take our word for it.

Kilauea lighthouse

Kilauea lighthouse

Our final stop was finding a obscure beach. The day was mostly cloudy and windy so we went to the beach more to say that we did, than to enjoy it. (This is an accurate description of the weather despite our selective use of photos which show sunlight.)

Ed Feb 12 10:15 pm

Categories: road trip, travel | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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