When the wiliwili tree blooms …

the sharks bite. — Hawaiian proverb

I wanted to write just a short post with a few photos from the recent Wiliwili Festival at the Waikōloa Dry Forest. I got a bit distracted researching the above proverb. I just got bogged down in reading more about wiliwili trees, sharks, etc. That linked article is just one example.

There were three plant events I wanted to go to that were all planned for February 10, the day before the Super Bowl. So I had to choose, and chose the Wiliwili Festival. I had heard good things about it. We really enjoyed the event. The dry forest tour was highly educational. The tents and exhibitors were all earnest, grass root organizations with an emphasis on education. There were native plant workshops, native plant giveaways, and other nature and cultural activities. It wasn’t a commercialized event, which was refreshing.

The dry forest is right outside Waikōloa Village. Getting to the event involves driving on a dirt road, parking on a big dirt lot (partially blocked off for nesting nene/geese), and walking a quarter mile. A Hawai’i Forest and Trail guide gave free tours of the dry forest. It’s really helpful to have someone tell the stories about the trees, place, and point out the plants. This dry forest is included in one of their paid tours where they have their visitors harvest seeds of native plants. I think this is the direction Hawai’i wants to go with regenerative tourism. “Regenerative” tourism is when visitors travel with a mindset to leave a destination better than it was before they arrived, and experiences go beyond a traditional vacation.  After the screeching halt due to COVID, there was a lot of buzz about emphasizing this type of tourism.

The oldest tree in the forest is about 250-275 years old. The age is approximate because of my memory, and me not being able to find out that tree’s age online. I like the odd shape of mature trees’ trunks and branches, and the color of the wood. This page concisely covers some of the ethnobotanical info about wiliwili. Here’s a link about the wiliwili on a Dept. of Land and Natural Resources web page. When I found that info, I discovered that Hawai’i has been competing nationally in American Forests’ Big Tree Competition for several years now.

The Hawaiian proverb tying wiliwili blossoms to sharks doesn’t quite apply with all of our little microclimates. That’s meant to be about September/October. The wiliwili was blossoming last month, in mid-January, at Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden. Greenwell’s elevation and rainfall is similar to ours. Neither our place nor Greenwell’s is really dry forest terrain. Almost a year ago I wrote about a local dry forest restoration project in the works near us. It ended up turning out that Hubby has been doing most of his Master Gardener volunteer work there.

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