After filling up on some coffee, my bladder need a break so me and the Misses pulled over at a beach park in Kalaeloa and since it was a nice overcast morning and we had the day to ourselves we decided to look down at the water’s edge for the usual: shells, limu varieties, native plants, tide pools to explore in, you know, things that most dorky couples spend time doing together. To our excitement, we literally found all of that and more…way more.
The first thing I notice from a distance along the shoreline were the mass of pōhuehue (Ipomea pes-caprae subsp. brasiliensis) in bloom. They were everywhere! Then I noticed that most of them weren’t natural plants but actually a part of a landscaping that utilized a bunch of native coastal plants! Hmmmm…..I wonder if they got the plants from us?
Litterally, they were everywhere and there were flowers galore!
Mixed into the mass of pōhuehue were a bunch of ‘īlima papa (Sida fallax). This is how I realized that these plants were not natural but instead out planted since ‘īlima papa is found along this coastline but the form is different from what was obviously planted here.
Along the water’s edge we were doing a little tide pool exploring as well. There were numerous types of limu we saw such as pālahalaha, ‘ele’ele and even a bunch of wāwae ‘iole! Along the rocks were molluscs like pipipi and ‘opihi ‘awa (false ‘opihi) but it was very cool to see numerous kuapa’a or green chitons (Acanthochiton viridus). Kuapa’a is the name i knew them as but they are also called pūpūmo’o (lizard shell) or pūpūpe’elua (catepillar shell).
I even found a few Pacific oysters although I don’t think these guys are native to Hawai’i, they sure taste ‘ono with some Tabasco, shoyu and lemons! These buggers were small but I saw at least 5 or six that were alive so there must be a thriving population of them out there!
I even saw a cool looking kūpe’e shell (Nerita pollita) that was occupied by a hermit crab! The pattern on this shell was really nice! Please don’t go there and pick though, these little guys need to make a comeback big time!
Back to the plants! Whoever designed this planting did a pretty good job and there were some nice representations of coastal plants that probably existed along this coastline at some point in the not so long ago past, such as this endangered ‘ohai (Sesbania tomentosa) that is most known from being a Ka’ena Point but could easily have been found along this coast as well.
Mixed into this area were some kipu kai (Heliotropium curasavicum) although I actually think these were growing here naturally since it was all over the coast not just in this stretch of out plantings.
One of my favorite ground covers was also present, trying to stretch its way down the beach. Nanea (Vigna marina) is an attractive vine-like ground cover in the bean family. When in bloom its tiny yellow flowers can be seen from a distance when it contrasts against its dark green foliage.
Mohihihi is another name that nanea goes by just not as common but depending on which island you’re on there are many other names that this plant is called although two of my favorite names for it are ‘ōkolemakili or lemuomakili which refers to their flowers looking like butt-cracks! Following this plant back down to the water led me to a pretty cool discovery of treasure! I happened to stumble across a beach glass that almost looked like a raw diamond!
Then right below this jewel in the tide pools I found some money….here’s some of it….but not all of it!
Past this section was an area of native plants that no longer consisted of out planted species but a rather large area of natural native beauty! It was cool to just be here by ourselves it totally made us feel like we weren’t even on O’ahu! The water was crystal clear and the beach had no footprints but ours! Even the sand was pretty with a lot of shell fragments, up close it looked like art work.
This beach fronted an amazing section of natives that included a field of ‘aki’aki grass (Sporobolus virginicus). It was growing in so thick and nice that there were no weeds! The only other plant within that area was ‘akulikuli (Sesuvium portualcastrum).
Here it is, growing between the margin of the ‘aki’aki grass along the edge of the rocky coastline!
Ultimately our day came to an end and we had to make our way far, far back to our truck….
but before we got there i saw an unusual hedge of plants. Typically you would expect naupaka (Scaevola sericea) to be found in this setting but instead we found a long row dwarfed kou trees (Cordia subcordata)! This is the third natural cluster of kou I found along this coastline which makes me think that it was a dominant tree of this leeward coast.
I look forward to when I’ll be back along this coastline again to explore even further or perhaps head in the opposite direction from where we started!