People from all over the world flock to Hawaii to take in the lush and expansive tropical vegetation. At the forefront of this flora frenzy is a diverse specimen that towers high and meanders low. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a view plane without seeing some variety of this wonderful tree…the palm tree.
There are approximately 2,600 species of palms in the world, ranging in size from shrubs to large trees. They thrive in tropical and sub-tropical climates at a variety of elevations. Given Hawaii’s diverse ecosystems and climate zones, it’s the perfect place for palms to thrive and where people can enjoy their beauty and study their unique features.
Although Hawaii boasts an abundance of palms, there’s actually only one native genus, Pritchardia, also known as the Loulu palm. There are approximately 27 species of Pritchardia palms, with about 24 being endemic to Hawaii.
Over time, with increased human activity and the introduction of rats and pigs, the once widespread Loulu palm has become scarce in the wild. Some species are now considered some of the most endangered tree species in the US. Luckily, stewards of the land and groups like the Hawaii Island Palm Society promote its growth and well-being so it will be around for future generations to enjoy.
As tropical rainforests are being destroyed around the world, private gardens in Hawaii are becoming a harbor for endangered palm species. From the strange snake fruit palm (Salacca zalacca), which yields edible fruit with a snake-like skin, to the beautiful Bismark palm (Bismarckia nobilis), an elegant, massive blue fan palm, the variety of palms is immense.
For those who desire to learn more about the glory of palm trees, the Hawaii Island Palm Society (or your local chapter) is a great place to start.
If you’re shopping for a home in Hawaii and would love an established private garden of your own, please consider taking a look at this stunning property.
Located on the Hilo side of the Big Island in the Sunrise Estates subdivision, this architectural delight was originally designed and built by members of the Hawaii Island Palm Society. It is dynamically connected with amazing tropical gardens that include many varieties of mature palms and an array of other flowering trees, shrubs, orchids and bromeliads.
Unique in its design, this two-bedroom home of over 2,000 sqft emerges from natural lava formations with lava rock and glass block walls. It offers an expansive living area, encased by enormous glass sliders on two sides, yielding a peaceful view of the garden. The open floor plan is perfect for entertaining and can be configured in a variety of ways to accommodate the kitchen, dining, living room and satellite office. The bedrooms are in their own wing set off to the right, accessed via an indoor wooden bridge that crosses a water feature housed between two picture windows.
The current owners are members of the Hawaii Island Palm Society, one being a recent past president. They are searching for a new steward to enjoy this amazing property as much as they have and to continue its palm-filled legacy. This is truly a place where visions of palm trees will dance in your head!