Hawaii is known for its floral splendor and wide variety of plant life. No where can this be better seen than on the island of Maui. With its tropical rainforests, cool Upcountry slopes, and sunny western shores Maui is a botanical paradise. Driving down any road, you'll see multi colored bougainvilleas and hibiscus in almost everyone's garden.
On Maui tropical exotics from all over the world mingle freely with the 24 Polynesian plants that have sustained ancient Hawaiian culture such as mai'a (banana) and coconut (niu), kalo (taro), kukui (candlenut), 'uala (sweet potato), and wauke (paper mulberry). These plants are commonly known as the "canoe plants."
At the same time, the steep mountains of Maui, Moloka'i, and Lana'i contain protected pockets of native plants both endemic and indigenous, many of which are endangered. Close to 1,000 species of these plants occur nowhere else on Earth and about 100 (10%) of these species are indigenous to Hawaii.
Unfortunately, however, there are also over 900 species (or 44% of the plants) of naturalized plants, many of which are detrimental to native plants by replacing them or crowding them out. Such is the delicate balance of the Hawaiian ecology.
Maui is also home to a wonderful assortment of botanical gardens, most of which are open for either guided or self-guided tours. In this feature we'll take a look at some of these beautiful gardens.