During a recent trip to the Island of Hawaii, I was in constant awe of the wide variety and exuberance of the island’s plant life. The region’s tropical climate, described by Mark Twain as “the most magnificent, balmy atmosphere in the world,” seemed to encourage almost any plant to take root, grow to gargantuan proportions and produce radiant blooms.
One of the best places to appreciate the island’s vegetation is at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, located a few minutes north of Hilo. There, the garden’s curators have generated spectacularly lush landscapes by packing together both indigenous tropical plants, like beach naupaka, and non-indigenous orchids, like Heliconia, and palms from Southeast Asia and Latin America. As microcosms of the tropical world, these vistas are impressive both when taken in as a whole and examined up close to appreciate just how diverse tropical plant life can be.