Because the islands of Hawai'i are located about 2,300 miles away from any continents, they are the most isolated places on the planet. That means plant and animal life arrived very infrequently and then evolved in isolation from the rest of the world. For this reason, many of Hawai'i's plants have evolved to be endemic (native to Hawai'i).

Arriving sporadically as seeds or spores attached to migrating birds or insects caught in high winds, these early plants flourished with little to no opposition in Hawai'i, and evolved to reflect this. With no grazing animals on the islands, plants in Hawai'i needed no defense mechanisms. That's why Hawai'ian holly is spineless, and Hawai'ian nettles don't sting. Hawai'ian mint is tasteless, where normally a strong taste fends off potential grazers.

Once Polynesians and later Europeans arrived on the islands, they cleared forests and introduced non-indigenous plants and animals, leading to the extinction of many endemic plants.

The Bishop Museum in Honolulu, HI.

The Bishop Museum's Ethnobotany Database

Take a look at the Bishop Museum's online ethnobotany database to learn all about plant life in Hawaii and how plants have been used for medicine and/or other purposes.
Plants in Hawaii

Flora of the Hawai'ian Islands

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has a database all about the flora of the Hawaiian Islands.

A white Hibiscus in Hawaii.

Images of Hawai'ian Plants

This is a database of images of plants that can be found here in Hawai'i.

The Kalanchoe Beharensis is native to Madagascar and has been cited as invasive in Hawaii.

Plant Threats to Pacific Ecosystem

Curious to know what plants are threatening the Pacific ecosystem? This database will show you.

Native Hawaiian plant.

Native Hawai'ian Plants

This database talks all about Hawai'i's native, or endemic, plants, and fully describes the plant characteristics, flower characteristics, growth requirements, and environmental information.

Last updated: December 21, 2017

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WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument
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