Transmissions From Hawaii: (Botanical) Paradise Island
I’m on my honeymoon in Hawaii, and I’ve been treating/torturing my husband with botany tidbits. Thank goodness I have this outlet, so here are some tropical plants to cheer up winter in the Mid-Atlantic. One of the first thongs that impressed my eyes as something different and exciting were the Cook Pines, Araucaria columnaris, family Araucariaceae. I don’t usually think of pines when I think of the tropics, yet these Cook pines are prominent here in Hawaii.
The Araucariaceae family is in the same evolutionary lineage with The Pine family (pines, spruce, fir), the Yew family, the Cypress family, and a few others. Unlike those other families though, Araucariacea family species aren’t found in the northern hemisphere. Cook Pines are endemic to New Caledonia in the South Pacific. The Araucariaceae family was abundant worldwide 200-150 million years ago, but most species went extinct around 66 million years ago. Now remaining species are mostly found in the southern hemisphere, so it’s a treat to see them in person!
This fern caught my eye up in the Waimea Canyon area, Dicranopteris linearis, or False staghorn fern (I think). The rolled up young leaf of ferns is called a fiddlehead. The botanical term for the way young leaves are packed is called “vernation.” In nature there are lots of ways a young leaf may be packed, including rolled, folded, scale-covered, or naked. The way this fiddlehead uncurls is particularly hypnotic.
Speaking of fiddleheads, this Hawaiian tree fern (Cibotium menziesii) fiddlehead is the size of my face. This fern was spotted in the Bird Park area of Volcano National Park, an old growth forest. Also known as Hapu’u, his fern is endemic to Hawaii, and is mostly found near Volcano National park and on the east side of the Island of Hawaii above 1000 feet in elevation.