Last friday I decided to take a quick stop in an area I always drove by but never took the time to explore, I was so glad I did but at the same time so disappointed in myself that I didn’t do it sooner! I was totally amazed at the diversity, amount and shear beauty of the coastal plant community there that I’m not even going to say where it is to minimize its exposure and hopefully preserve its beauty, but, based on some of the shots you might be able to figure it out…….
The first type of plant I came up to was nehe (Melanthera integrifolia). I was surprised to see so much of it, makes me think that this whole coastline at some point probably had a lot of it. There aren’t too many places today (on O’ahu at least) that you can see this much of it in one location!
Around the nehe were great clusters and mass surroundings of ‘ākulikuli (Sesuvium portulacastrum) with hinahina (Heliotropium anomalum) mixed into them.
In my amazement of all the cool plants I failed to see the sheet of rain headed in my direction! Needless to say I got soaked but managed to find cover under a ledge. I was already soaking wet but i didn’t want to chance wrecking my phone….again.
So I hung out under this ledge for about 15 minutes. It was a nice (but cold) time to relax and reflect on this near pristine landscape and enjoy the elements!
Once the rain stopped I peaked out from under my shelter and found, what I felt, to be the most beautiful area yet…..so many species intertwined together in one happy community. Made me feel as if i were back in time since there were no other alien weeds in this section just a great mixture of ‘ākulikuli, hinahina, pā’ū o hi’iaka (Jacquemontia ovalifolia), ‘ōhelo kai (Lycium sandwicense) and mau’u’aki’aki (Fimbristylis cymosa). It reminded me of the silversword (‘āhinahina) bog at Pu’ukukui with diverse, miniature versions of plants except here it’s the coast, the plants are full grown and instead of ‘āhinahina, you have hinahina!
Just beyond this area was another amazing site, a full cascading slope of hinahina! Some parts had more isolated hinahina like this:
While other areas were dense and compact like below. Regardless there were a lot and most of the flowers were in perfect bloom. Still one of my most favorite flower scents hands down.
Climbing down the next gully I was surprised to see yet another area with a different mix of plants, this time it was dominated with mau’u’aki’aki and ‘īlima papa (Sida fallax) plants. Literally the whole slope was covered with this sedge and interspersed with the ‘īlima.
Hiking back up from the waters edge I was able to stumble across another ridge that was covered with a mix mainly of ‘ākulikuli and ‘ōhelo kai. So cool to see different spots within such close proximity made up of similar yet different combinations of plants. Interesting enough sometimes ‘ōhelo kai is referred to as ‘ākulikuli kai so technically there were ‘ākulikuli and ‘ākulikuli kai growing together. I always wondered where the name ‘ākulikuli kai came from in reference to ‘ōhelo kai since normal ‘ākulikuli is typically found near the “kai” anyway and is always found in the same area as ‘ōhelo kai.
Even further up the ridge were large areas of pā’ū o hi’iaka and more ‘īlima papa. I found another small drop off with a nice waterfall of pā’ū o hi’iaka. It looked like a nice wave with a barrel….maybe a little ‘iole surfing inside who knows.
Turns out I was there at the prime time of day since there were so many flowers perfectly opened, these flowers usually only last about a day and close up.
I moved further down the coast and saw another amazing shrub…’iliahialo’e (Santalum ellipticum var. littoralis) or coastal sandalwood. Such a nice plant and full of life since it was completely covered in flowers and vibrant purple liko. One of the nicer forms of sandalwood, this species is usually a shrub 6ft or less near the coast but can be a small tree up to 15ft tall at higher elevations.
If you are lucky, as I was on this day, you can come across another uncommon coastal native, hinahina kahakai (Nama sandwicense). This little endemic guy can be easily overlooked and stepped over, or even worse, stepped on! Only by bending down and getting close to the ground can you truly appreciate this cool little plant….Coincidentally, its Hawaiian name, hinahina kahakai (which originates from Ni’ihau) also shares the same name situation as ‘ākulikuli and ‘ākulikuli kai since it shares part of its name with the aforementioned hinahina and can often be found in the same area at or near the “kahakai”.
Speaking of seedlings I also saw more examples of new life with this little baby nehe growing out of an older cluster of mau’u’aki’aki that used its old, dead leaf blades as a perfect nursery.
Finally before heading back to my truck i saw a small patch of nohu (Tribulus cistoides). From a distance this is a really beautiful ground cover. Flashy, reflective, silvery leaves with stunning yellow flowers make this plant extremely attractive. However, unlucky passersby might feel the wrath of its name sake…..
The seed capsules of the nohu plant are covered with rigid, sharp spines that feel like you just stepped on the poisonous dorsal spines of the native scorpion fish also called nohu.
All together it was an amazing afternoon and I cant wait to go back again to enjoy the plants, scenery and serenity…..