Native Hawaiian plants nurtured for education and industry

A combination landscape-design and research project is sprouting in the middle of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources researcher Orville Baldos and his students have planted three kinds of native Hawaiian plants around Varney Circle.

UH Mānoa graduate student Aleta Corpuz was part of a group of students assisting Baldos with installing irrigation and cultivating ʻIlima, ʻĀweoweo and Pacific lovegrass.

“This definitely is important so we can show the different natives that we can use in the landscape and also to increase awareness to other people so they can see the possibilities of utilizing natives within their landscapes and gardens,” Corpuz said.

UH Mānoa senior Rachelle Carson added, “People forget that native plants can be used in landscaping. Native plants can be beautiful. ʻIlima has beautiful flowers. ʻĀweoweo has great leaves on it, so I think itʻs good.”

Besides adding to the daily enjoyment of the campus community, the new plantings provide living examples of native dry coastal and dry forest plants for educational purposes. They will also allow Baldos and his students to collect valuable data for the landscape industry. According to the Landscape Industry Council of Hawaiʻi, landscaping is one of the stateʻs fastest growing and largest segments of the green industry with an economic impact of more than $520 million annually and full-time employment of more than 11,000 landscape professionals.

“By having this demonstration site, the landscape industry can take a look at what other plant materials are available,” said Baldos, “Then eventually they can expand their landscape plantings and have more variety in the landscaping.”

While the project may be important to industry, it is also deeply personal to some.

Corpuz explained, “This is important to me because I, as a native Hawaiian, I want to increase the awareness of the native Hawaiian plants and the ability of people to utilize them.”

Source: A UH News story