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Island Flora - The Trees and Flowers of Molokai

Exploring the island whether by foot or by car, you will occasionaly be brought up short by an astounding display of color or some unusual-looking tree.

This page tries to give just a sample of what was encountered.



0029   The roots of a Banyan Tree. Most times, the seed of a plant will germinate in or on the dirt and then send roots further into the soil to support the stems and leaves growing above the soil.

The Banyan tree starts its life when its seed germinates in a crack or crevice on a host tree (or maybe even a building or bridge) so it then has to send its roots through the air to get to the soil.

Eventually this little epiphyte grows into a massive shade tree, frequently overwhelming its original host structure.



8752   A more extensive view of the aerial roots of the Banyan Tree.

The shape of this tree and shade-giving qualities make it a natural place for a street merchant to set up an open-air shop in the bazaar - whence its name which derives from the Gujarati word "banya" which means merchant or grocer.

This tree also plays a large symbolic role in Hinduism and the Bhagavad Gita. Robinson Crusoe is also alleged to have sheltered within the roots of a large one on his desert island.



9015   The Banyan tree is an epiphyte - defined as plant that grows on another plant upon which it depends for mechanical support but not for nutrients. (Also called aerophyte, or air plant).

In this picture there appears to be an orchid growing on the trunk of a Banyan - an epiphyte growing on an epiphyte.



0092   A tall tree invaded by a creeping vine, the Cape Honeysuckle.

Spotted on some vacant land along the road, I hadn't seen one of these plants since my youth - it brought brought back memories.

They are beautiful but invasive under the right circumstances - climbing vertically over tall trees and horizontally to neighboring trees until they have overwhelmed the competition for sunlight.



0095   The flowers on the Cape Honeysucle are shaped like long trumpets - long enough to foil hummingbirds raiding their nectar and preserve it for smaller insects who do a better job of pollination.



0116   These big leaves brought back another memory from my youth. When out camping in the bush and one was visited by some local natives, it was customary to celebrate friendship with a small feast - to roast and serve up a small animal. In the absence of any suitable large serving dishes, a large leaf would be cut to serve as the platter where the the meat could be carved and then served.



0132   In the middle of nowhere, far from any obviously visible settlement, a well-tended park with mowed grass and a grove of gnarly thorn trees for shade and some barbecue pits for picnicers.



0198   Another old friend from my youth - the Nandi Flame Tree. (The Nandi are a tribe in Kenya, if you are familiar with Elspeth Huxley's book The Flame Trees of Thika, this is what it is referring to.)

Also known as The Fountain Tree, African Tulip Tree, or Flame-of-the-forest,



0197   The flower petals of the Flame Tree surround ampule-shaped buds that contain water. These buds are great fun for children who play with their ability to squirt the water.


8707   Another wonderfull specimen of a Nandi Flame Tree.



0208   Bougainvillea



8806   Ground cover in the dunes. As you leave the beach and start hiking toward the mountains, you pass through a zone with this striking ground cover.



8885   Flower buds on the tip of a branch on a Norfolk Pine.

This tree is native to Norfolk Island (in the Pacific towards Australia) and was highly prized by the navies of England, France, and Holland as making the tallest straightest strongest masts. For some time they managed to keep the source of their superior masts a secret from the Spanish and The Portuguese who looked more to the West than the East.

He who has the taller masts carries the greatest sail - and gets to rule the waves, so Norfolk Island became a strategic asset.

Today, rows of them form windbreaks for the coffee plantations on Molokai.



8932   Unidentified wildflower along the roadside



8983   A tree of many colors.

Actually this is a tree that has been (over-)enthusiastically embraced by a number of different flowering vines - resulting in a virtuoso Technicolor display.

This tree was growing wild by the roadside - some 100 yards from one end of Main Street of the largest town on the island - passed every day by hundreds of folks who never gave it a second glance.



8984/5   Detail from the Tree Of Many Colors



0168   Colors Rampant



0171   Colors Overflowing



0173   Just showing off

Another tree colonised by creepers and vines of different flowering colors. And spotted growing wild by the roadside - obviously just showing off and trying to get some attention.



8987   Bougainvillea.



0180   A pair of Frangipani. That's what they were called where I grew up - in America they are also known as Plumeria.

This is the typical flower used in the construction of neck garlands (or Leis as they are known in Hawaii)



9000   Yellow with a red center



9006   Virginal white with a yellow center



9061   Hibiscus



9062   Hibiscus also come in multiple shades



9007   I have no idea what plants are shown in the rest of these pictures.

I include them just because they appealed to me.

















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