Today’s short post will highlight some of the neat plants we came across hiking the many nooks and crannies of Nuuanu Valley. Even though it is bisected by the Pali Hwy, the plant life is still pretty diverse.
In some ways it is easy to get lost in Nuuanu; the terrain is fairly flat and it can be difficult keeping track of which subgulch is which. But, it is harder to completely lose your bearings though. The traffic from the Pali Hwy is a constant companion. Luckily, the native plants are as well.
One of the first species we came across was this lovely grass (hehe!) Kawelu or lovegrass (Eragrostis variablis) can be found in many dry and open areas in the islands. Here we came across a whole patch of them.
This was a sight for sore eyes. A native plant standing strong amongst a grove of dead invasives. This was a healthy specimen of hala pepe (Pleomele halapepe).
Here was a pilo (Kadua acuminata) in a habitat that I had never seen it in before. Instead of the forest understory, it was completely out in the open. Very interesting.
By far the coolest thing we came across was opuhe (Urera glabra). And like the kawelu earlier, we came across a large healthy population of them.
Opuhe is another of the native Hawaiian nettles. This species is very closely related to olona (Touchardia latifolia). As you can see, opuhe leaves look very similar to olona. For the most part though, olona has much larger leaves on average.
Another difference is that the new leaf growth is surrounded by these red stipules. They eventually fall off as the leaf matures but they seem to be distinctive for opuhe.
Quite fortuitously, we were able to see the plants in full infructesence. It shows another difference between olona and opuhe. Whereas olona fruits are on dense globose clusters, here, opuhe fruits are on more open structures.
And finally, these were tall trees. Many of them were at least 15-20 ft. tall. The manual states that U. glabra has branches that tend to droop but many of the individuals we came across were upright. It was quite a pleasure to be able to walk among these stately native plants.
Well, I hope you enjoyed meeting these plants, especially these large tree nettles. Just another gem of the islands. Till next time…