Imiloa, Hilo Attractions | Native Garden
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Flora of the the ‘Aina at ‘Imiloa


‘Imiloa Astronomy Center's award-winning landscape provides visitors with a glimpse into Hawaii's pristine, native ecosystem. Our native landscape is a living exhibit of endemic, indigenous, and Polynesian-introduced plants, or what is often called "canoe plants."

Designed by Honolulu landscape architect Randall Monaghan, and maintained and preserved by our staff, the native plant landscape here makes a bold statement about the importance of Hawaii's natural environment—an environment that is threatened by over 5,000 invasive plants in the islands. These invasive plants threaten the 1,000 natives in Hawaii.

Wide variety of plants

The landscape at ‘Imiloa consists of over 50 native plant species from Hawaii's different microenvironments. While some of the native plants are commonly found throughout that Hawaiian island chain, a few are extremely rare and endangered.

This includes a few endemic species over 150 years old that were growing here prior to the land being developed for construction of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.

Four different elevation groups

The native landscape is designed to replicate the types of plants that grow naturally at different elevations on the island of Hawaii. The four areas and examples of plants in these areas include:

Kahakai (Seaside)
hau, milo, kou, niu hiwa, niu lelo, naupaka kahakai, pohinahina, and loulu.

Kula (Plains)
puhala, lama, ho‘awa, alahe‘e, na‘u, koki‘o ‘ula, and koki‘o ke‘oke‘o.

Wao Kanaka (Realm of the Humans)
kamani, ‘ulu, kukui, ‘ohi'a ‘ai, ‘ohe, ki, ‘uala, kalo, wauke po‘a‘aha, pia, ‘olena, ko, ‘awapuhi kuahiwi, and loulu

Wao Akua (Realm of the Gods)
‘ohi‘a lehua, mamo, ‘ekaha, kolea, kopiko, hapu‘u, hapu‘u ‘i‘i, palapalai, pala‘a, and ‘ama‘u.

Walk along our Canoe Plants pathway to see those plants which early Polynesians brought to the islands.

Take our garden tour. Download PDF

‘Imiloa staff and volunteers provide interpretive cultural landscape tours which elaborate on the traditional uses of many of these plants and their significance in Hawaiian culture