Hawaiian Flora and Fauna

Hawaiian Flora and Fauna
By: Rene Thompson

The Hawaiian Islands are known for their beautiful sandy beaches, warm, tropical weather, and relaxing atmosphere. If you venture out of your hotel and off the beaches, you may also get a chance to see some of the unique flora and fauna that calls Hawaii home. Besides the sandy beaches, Hawaii is also home to at least one volcano on each island, as well as rainforests and a whole range of other environments where unique plants and creatures may be seen.

In the waters around the Hawaiian islands, you may see dolphins, monk seals, and turtles. Snorkeling is a great way to see brightly colored fish and other sealife. You will occasionally see jellyfish on the beaches, especially in Oahu. They generally show up a week or 10 days after a full moon, for the purpose of mating. Keep an eye out for them, because they can sting you.

Away from the beach, look for butterflies, birds, and other small creatures. The State Bird is the nene, which can only be found in Hawaii and is related to the Canadian Goose. Although it nearly reached extinction in the 1960s and 1970s, today there are about 1300 nene birds, mainly on the Big Island and in Kauai.

You may see geckos, small lizard like creatures, scaling the walls of your hotel or other buildings throughout Hawaii. These small creatures may seem like pets, but actually they eat other bugs, and in Hawaii, it is considered a sign of good luck to have geckos in your home. Another creature you may see as a pest is the cane spider, a large brown spider that eats other bugs and does not spin webs. It is considered bad luck to kill a cane spider.

The only two mammals that are native in Hawaii are the small hoary bat and the Hawaiian monk seal. Today there are many different types of mammals on Hawaii, but these have all been brought over from other locations. There are also no snake species native to Hawaii.

The flora seen in the rainforests of Hawaii include angel’s trumpets, heart shaped antherims, orange and blue birds of paradise, ginger flowers, hibiscus, plumeria, and orchids. The traditional flower lei is usually made of plumerias or orchids, though they can also be made of puakinikini, a particularly fragrant flower found in Hawaii.

Other flora includes abundant fruit trees in many different varieties, such as avocado, banana, breadfruit, mango, papaya, and macadamia. Lychees, which look like grapes with a hard outer coat, are a prized fruit that grows wild throughout the islands.

Many different examples of flora and fauna are seen only in Hawaii, and nowhere else in the world. These include the Koa Tree, found at higher elevation and prized for its hard wood. Koa wood was traditionally used for canoes, but today can be found in the form of bowls, furniture, and other items.

If you look around the islands, you’ll surely be dazzled by the array of flora and fauna seen throughout the Hawaiian Islands

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