Island culture is intimately connected to the land. For generations, Hawaiians relied on native plants for most of their food, medicine, clothing, fuel, shelter, and other basic necessities. Even in the modern era, many locals look to Hawaiian herbalism, also known as la’au lapa’au, to ease ailments like headaches and colds.
Aside from their practical benefits, many Hawaiian plants are simply stunning. Hanalei Bay Resort alone is home to dozens of species, leading one guest named Izak to comment that “It’s like vacationing in the Garden of Eden!”
The resort offers weekly tours of its gardens, during which you’ll learn about the traditional uses of the many plants we have onsite. Here are a few facts about some of the species you’ll spot at Hanalei Bay Resort.
State tree of Hawaii
- Symbolizes spiritual enlightenment
- Nuts are used to make leis
- Oil from the nuts treats psoriasis and eczema
- Used in sacred ceremonies
- Can be crafted into hula skirts, sandals, and thatch roofs
- Makes an excellent wrap for traditional Polynesian food
- Often wrapped around hot stones to form a compress
- Also known as musk or malie-scented fern
- Smells like vanilla when crushed
- Spore-bearing leaves used for inflammation, digestive upset, and sores
- Also used for masking the scent of traditional dyes
- Called the “Kung Fu Masters Herb” due to its many medicinal properties
- Antibacterial qualities make it useful for wounds
- In spite of usefulness, it’s considered an invasive species in Hawaii
- Not actually in the palm tree family, more closely related to the banana
- Stalks collect rainwater, which can yield up to a quart of water each
- Thirsty travelers used to rely on the plant to stay hydrated on long journeys
Fruit Salad Plant
- Also known as cheese plant, Mexican breadfruit, and Penglai banana
- Yields a green, scaly fruit with pineapple-like flesh
- Unripe fruit contains potassium oxalate, which will irritate your throat and skin; make sure the scales are lifted and the fruit exudes a pungent odor before you eat it!
- Also a common houseplant
For more information about our weekly botanical tours, please contact the front desk at (808) 826-6522. You’ll also see dozens of different plants just walking through our grounds on your way to the pool or beach. We even have a dedicated orchid garden!