Hawaii: Day 2

Yesterday included a visit to the Koko Crater Botanical Garden, a plethora of lovely plants residing in a volcanic crater. Wikipedia describes it like this:

The Koko Crater Botanical Garden (60 acres) is a botanical garden located within the Koko Crater (Koko Head) on the eastern end of Oahu, Hawaii. It was given the dual title of the Charles M. Wills Cactus Garden by the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation, in recognition of his contributions to the garden, in 1966.

The garden is part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, and first established in 1958. Its hot, dry climate is suitable for Plumeria and Bougainvillea cultivars in the outer crater, kiawe (Prosopis pallida) and koa haole (Leucaena leucocephala) trees, and four major collections organized by region (Africa, the Americas, Hawaii, and Pacifica). Other collections include adeniums, alluaudias, aloes, baobabs, cacti, euphorbias, palms, and sansevierias, as well as a native grove of wiliwili trees (Erythrina sandwicensis). A loop trail (2 miles) runs through the collections. They have about 500 trees and 200 species of trees.

Before we begin, though, I have to show my three favorite animals on Oahu. The first is Fergus the Duck, who lives in a marina not far from where I’m staying. Fergus (and his many duck friends) get fed a big meal of Mazuri waterfowl food (for adults, not for ducklings) at least once a day. They all live on an island in the marina, and so are safe from predators.

Fergus always comes to his name, and always leads the other ducks to the edge of the marina where they get fed. He seems to be a mallard, but with at least some domesticated genes. His name, of course, comes from the Yeats poem, and from the fact that he’s always the lead duck:

And my local Hawaiian cat bros, Loki and Pi. The view of Pi is what I get every morning when I rise at 4:30 a.m. so you can have something to read!

Pi keeps me company for hours as I write:

On to the botanical garden. I do not know much about plants, but will identify the ones I remember. The rest I leave to the readers.

The crater walls rise all around the garden, and there’s a circular loop trail of two miles inside:

Right now the Plumeria are in bloom all over Oahu, and are especially resplendent in the crater. Their fallen blooms litter the ground.


A screwpine, Pandanus tectorius, native to Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific. The stilt roots are unusual; its fruit is eaten while the leaves are used as flavoring in cakes and jams (I even have a bar of Pandanus soap that is wonderfully fragrant).

You tell me what this is, ’cause I don’t know:

A golden barrel cactus, Echinocactus grusonii, endemic to Mexico:

What is this?

And I don’t know this bird, either. Readers will have to help with the IDs for this post:

The yellow hibiscus, the official state flower of Hawaii:

And a red one:

Now here’s a wierd plant, the salacious “sausage tree”, Kigelia africana, a monospecific genus native to Africa. Their weird fruits, which give the tree its name, can be up to 60 cm (2 feet) long and weigh as much as 12 kg (26 pounds).

The fruit “sausages” are used for medicines and as containers.

What kind of animals ate that fruit?

I didn’t see a flower on the tree (there were some wilted ones on the ground), but here’s what one looks like (from Wikipedia):

Pachypodium rutenberianum, a weird plant native to Madagascar:

This may be another specimen of the species, but you tell me.

I’m not sure what tree this is, but it was replete with red flowers that attracted birds, and several small birds (unidentified) made their nests in it, probably because the thorns offer some protection from predators like mongooses (mongeese?):


A baobob tree, Adansonia sp., with its bulbous trunk making it look like one of the world’s strangest-looking trees. It’s native to Africa, Australia, Madagascar, and Arabia:

This lovely flowering tree, Bougainvilla, I think, is in bloom all over the island:

The obligatory vanity photo, courtesy of Nilou:

Hiking around in the sun makes you hungry, and so for lunch we repaired to an all-you-can eat shabu-shabu restaurant in the ritzy Ala Moana mall, Shabuya. For less than twenty bucks you can get all the meat, veggies, seafood (clams, mussels, shrimp) that you can cook in your personal hotpot, along with appetizers like gyoza and fresh noodles, including soba and udon. We took full advantage of the place, ordering many trays of meat, which you can cook in a lovely broth that doubles as a soup on the side.

The meats are two cuts of pork and two of beef; we made repeated orders of the beef at the extreme right:

Cooking away in the hot pot:

Conveniently, the best shave ice place I know, Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha, was in the same mall, and so we had dessert. A nice shave ice is the best ending to a hotpot meal.

There’s a better, sitdown Uncle Clay’s in Aina Haina, which is also cheaper.

Strawberry shave ice:

I deviated from my usual practice of having the matcha (green tea) shave ice with azuki beans and mochi, trying instead the taro malasada (Hawaiian/Portuguese spherical donut) cut in half and filled with gourmet Tahitian vanilla ice cream.

And so endeth another day in Paradise.




  1. darrelle
    Posted June 19, 2019 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Sausage tree! There is a beautiful specimen just down the street from me and one of my favorite trees. I’d never seen or heard of such a tree before I first saw this one, and have never seen another until now.

    And I thought that I had coined the name Sausage Tree!

    • Barbara Radcliffe
      Posted June 20, 2019 at 5:00 am | Permalink

      We have a nice specimen in the Adelaide Botanic Garden. I’ve never known the fruit to be as big as mentioned above, however. I must pay more attention to it!

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 19, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I cannot name the plants, will ask my wife to look later. Is that big one, organ cactus? Never seen one that big. Some very nice pictures. Ala Moana is thee mall, right on the main drag to the beaches and all the tourist. I think the main drag is Ala Moana Blvd.

  3. John Dentinger
    Posted June 19, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Bougainvillea is indeed a beautiful plant–vine, in fact. After growing it in both Key West and St. Pete, FL, I can attest to it being the most bloodthirsty plant in the known universe. It’s like playing rugby: be prepared to give blood.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 19, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Permalink


  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted June 19, 2019 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Awesome post!

  5. Posted June 19, 2019 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I love Pandanus!
    This plant is one of the reasons I became a biologist! My Grandpa bought one around 1950 and its descendants are still propagated in the family. As a child I looked it up in the local library and stumbled over pictures from the Southern Seas…. : )
    Thanks for the daydream !

  6. Posted June 19, 2019 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Your bird took me a while to pin down as it is clearly a juvenile but it appears to be a white-rumped shama, Copsychus malabaricus. The adult males are spectacular birds but unfortunately, like many birds on those islands today, it’s an introduced species, being native to India and SE Asia.

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted June 19, 2019 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always loved baobob trees. They are so untypical.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted June 19, 2019 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Hiking around botanical gardens is nothing but fun. Whenever I’m travelling and find out about one, there’s a day’s destination. Thanks for the virtual tour(s) so far. Hawaii is relaxing even when experiencing it in absentia.

  9. Achrachno
    Posted June 19, 2019 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    The wide-leaved rosette plant following the golden barrel is Agave attenuata, perhaps the most benign member of its often wickedly thorny genus.

    • Posted June 19, 2019 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this is agave.

      I don’t think the red flower is a hibiscus. It resembles a gladiolus bloom but I’m not sure.

      • danstarfish
        Posted June 22, 2019 at 3:52 am | Permalink

        Yes, the red flower isn’t a hibiscus. It’s an adenium (desert rose).

  10. Glenda Palmer
    Posted June 19, 2019 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the wonderful photos and notes. The plants are amazing – and different compared to anything I am familiar with.

    • Dominic
      Posted June 20, 2019 at 4:30 am | Permalink

      Yes – but surprised there is no small label attached to the trees the way some botanical gardens do…

  11. joanfaiola
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    The tree with red flowers is a coral tree Erythrina sp. There are a number of species indigenous to South Africa, where I live. Some of them are frost-hardy.

    • Mike Cracraft
      Posted June 20, 2019 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      It certainly looks like a coral bean tree, although the ones we grow here in Texas have
      smooth bark and no thorns. At first I thought it might be a Madagascan euphorbia given the spiny limbs but the flowers give it away.

  12. Kurt Helf
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one who thought of the “Fanny Dooley” jokes from PBS’ old “Zoom” program after reading today’s “Hili Dialogue” and the shave ice portion of “Hawaii: Day 2”?
    Fanny Dooley loves vanilla ice cream but hates vanilla shakes.
    I believe the sausage tree fruits are eaten by elephants in their native Africa. Too bad Gomphotheres never made it to Hawaii.

  13. Posted June 21, 2019 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I should try to find a seafood focused shabu shabu place here …

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