Dune plant habitat at Kanaha
NATIVE PLANTS: native Plants include, indigenous, endemic and endangered species. native plants have persisted despite competition from invasive species. Re-vegetation programs, and weed control have brought back the flora to near pristine condition in many areas. Native plants are b est suited to the dry coastal environment and once established thrive here. Natives provide an important part of the coastal ecosystem, Stabilizing dunes, trapping moisture, shading the ground, habitat and food source for native insects and fauna. Kanaha’s established flora has become a repository for many species. Seeds are collected here for the reforestation projects on the island of Kaho’olawe and other areas. Indigenous plants are used in traditional Lei making, and for medicine and other practical purposes. Native plant destruction from off-road beach driving has been reduced and controlled with the addition of beach fences and designated driveways and parking areas. The efforts of many hard working volunteers have made all the difference in the revival of Kanaha’s Flora over the years. To ensure that Kanaha’s natural beauty will be preserved for future generations.
Indigenous and endemic Native Species: These plants occur naturally in Hawaii, either migrating here as seeds floating on the ocean, or carried by birds and wind. The endemic plants have evolved into unique species that are found nowhere else in the world. Many plants are endangered because of the destruction to their natural habitat. Some of the endemic/endangered plants at Kanaha are species unique to Maui. In some cases there are only several hundred individual plants of a single species remaining in the wild, therefore every individual plant is important for the perpetuation of the species.
Indigenous or endemic plants at Kanaha include: Iliahialoe (Santalum ellipticum), Naupaka (Scaevola sericea), Dwarf Naupaka (Scaevola coriacea), Pohuehue (Ipomoea pes-caprae subsp. brasiliensis), (ipomoea_indica), Pohinahina (Vitex rotundifolia), Akia (Wikstroemia uva-ursi), Ilima papa (sida fallax), Nehe (Lipochaeta integrifolia), Nama (Nama sandwicensis) Aeae (Bacopa monnieri), Ihi (portulaca_lutea, portulaca molokiniensis), Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis), Loulu (Pritchardia sp.), Popolo (Solanum nelsonii), Hinahina (Heliotropium anomalum var. argenteum), Nena (Heliotropium curassavicum), Ohai (Sesbania tomentosa), Naio (Myoporum sandwicense).
Hawaiian (Polynesian) Traditional Plants: It is believed that this group of plants were first brought to Hawaii by the early Polynesian settlers hundreds of years ago. Chants and oral history tell how these highly valued plants were brought along on the original sailing-canoe voyages from (Tahiti). The best known examples include, Milo (Thespesia populnea), Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus), Kou (Cordia subcordata ), Ti leaf (Cordyline fruticosa), Taro (), Coconut (Niu) Hala tree (Pandanus tectorus). These trees are considered sacred to Hawaiians and have many uses in traditional culture. The living plant, the wood, sap, leaves, roots, fruits and flowers may be used in a variety of ways. Some woods are used in canoe building, fish-trap making, tools, and sacred objects. The spiny leaves of the Hala tree called “Lau hala” were made into cloth by weaving. The flowers of certain plants have medicinal properties, and the flowers, seeds, sap and bark are sometimes used to make dyes.