y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed: Leave Only Footprints: Maui's Abundant Flora

Leave Only Footprints: Maui's Abundant Flora

In October my family took a rejuvenating trip to Maui for a week. It was the first time we traveled together in over 12 years. Also, after about 12 years, my college roommate and I had a reunion there, complete with tuberose leis. It was a happy trip.

We went on many drives around the island and one aspect of it that made a huge impression on us was the rich, abundant plant life. Everywhere you turn are stunning plants that thrive in the tropical weather. The air is heavy with floral fragrances wafting through the clean air.

Consider this part 1 of series on this enchanting island. This installment covers its inspiring landscapes.

Over the summer I took a beginners' photography class and this trip was an opportunity to do some field studies. I practiced macro photography on the flowers and capturing movement with the ocean waves. The Valley Isle, as Maui is known, is a fertile ground of  beauty, providing the perfect backdrop for photography.

At first glance the most prevalent plants are bougainvillea vines. We see these quite a bit in California, but not with so much color variety. I love how the different colored plants are grown together and start blending into multi-colored bushes. Sometimes the bougainvillea climbers start overtaking nearby trees! One of my first projects upon returning home was planting a two-color set of bougainvillea in the front yard. We shall see over time how that turns out. 

Bougainvillea at a residence in Makena

Mixed colors of bougainvillea
Detail of white on pink bougainvillea

Hibiscus plants are also found everywhere. In California I never noticed them much but in Maui, with all the different colors and shapes, they just popped. Some Hawaiian ladies are known to put these red hibiscus flowers behind their ear to attract new loves. They are also edible.

Tall hibiscus with bare branches and red hibiscus flowers at the tips.
Even the most simple looking plants had a twist of unexpected color.

Green plant with red tipped leaves
Lipstick palms with red stems
Fiery orange bromeliads at dusk
There are various micro-climates within the island, contributing to the variety of plant life. In the rain forest zones, hundreds of species of lush plants grow on 150 inches of annual rainfall.
Plumeria tree - sweet fragrance and velvety texture; used to make leis
Ginger flower
Heliconia, or lobster claw flower
Laue'e fern - hardy ferns with raised dot texture on their graceful leaves
Gardenia - intoxicatingly fragrant
Elegant, all green anthurium bouquet at Four Seasons Hotel
Red anthurium bouquet at Ritz-Carlton Hotel - heart shaped leaf with spike flower
In "Upcountry" Maui, cooler temperatures and moderate rainfall contribute to native plants growing mostly on cloudy slopes. We stopped at Sunrise Protea Farm and enjoyed multiple varieties of protea along with other lush plants.

Protea - the tips appeared like feathers
Protea - known as the pin cushion protea
In Maui's cold, dry highlands near the Haleakala volcano, only a few hardy, adaptable plants grow. Maui's coastline contains plants growing in the ocean salty spray around the beaches.
The native silverswords looked like they were made of mirror or silver. They were stunning against the reddish earth.

Silversword at Haleakala Crater
Maui's coastline plants grow among the ocean's salt spray and on loose, sandy soils.

Coconut Tree
Pine tree at Haleakala (possibly Ironwood Tree)
Pine cone and dry pine needles at Haleakala
There are other micro-climate areas such as the coastal desert and freshwater plants. Besides the climate specific species, we discovered several exotic trees.

Monkey Pods - the branches look like roots; originally from Africa
Tree at Hookipa Lookout - name unknown 
Tree pod at Kihei
Bread fruit tree with falling sap
Hong Kong Orchid tree
Noni tree - used for medicinal purposes; roots contain a yellow dye
In case you are wondering what "Leave Only Footprints" means, it came from a hand painted sign at Wailele Farm that reminded visitors to "Please respect the land. Leave only footprints".

Stay tuned for the next in the series, covering another inspiring aspect of Maui.

2 Responses to “Leave Only Footprints: Maui's Abundant Flora”:

  1. Steve says:

    Absolutely stunning photo's.

  2. Thank you, Steve. I am constantly trying to evolve my photo skills (and equipment). Glad to know I captured a sense of the beauty of those plants.

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