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Examples in the Honolulu Zoo Children’s Discovery Forest

Canoe Plants

Plants brought to Hawai‘i by Polynesian voyagers during initial settling voyages. (Hawaiian, Common, and Scientific names)

‘Awa: Kava

Piper methysticum

Kalo: Taro

Colocasia esculenta

Kī: Ti

Cordyline fruticosa

Ko: Sugar Cane

Saccharum officinarum

Mai‘a: banana

Musa x paradisiaca

‘Uala: Sweet potato

Ipomoea batatas

Native Plants

Plants that arrived in a location by natural means though wind, wing or wave. Native plants can be endemic (unique to one place in the world) or indigenous (exist in different places with similar environments).


Bacopa monnieri


Psydrax odorata


Acacia koaia


Pipturus albidus

O‘ahu Sedge

Carex wahuensis

‘Ōhi‘a Lehua

Metrosideros polymorpha

Plants as Habitats: Food Plants

Native plants such as grasses, sedges, leafy herbs, fruiting shrubs and trees that provide a variety of food for nēnē and other native birds to ensure a healthy diet. (Hawaiian and Scientific names)


Myoporum sandwicense


Vaccinium spp.

Pili Grass

Heteropogon contortus

Plants as Habitat: Nesting/Perching

Native shrubs and smaller trees that protect ground-nesting birds like the nēnē and larger trees that provide perching and nesting sites for raptors like the ‘io and pueo.


Pittosporum spp.


Acacia koa


Pritchardia spp.


Leptecophylla tameiameiae

Additional Food, Nesting, and Perching Plants:

  • Alahe‘e: Psydrax odorata – Fruit is eaten by birds.
  • O‘ahu Sedge: Carex wahuensis – A food source for nēnē.
  • Māmaki: Pipturus albidus – Food for birds and the Kamehameha butterfly caterpillars
  • ‘Ōhi‘a lehua: Metrosideros polymorpha – Native birds feed on the nectar from its flowers.

Additional Photo Credits

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