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Sherman Lab Courtyard Relandscaping Project

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The People

The Plantings

Dedication Ceremony

Awards and Recognition

Plant Information


(Don't forget our monthly weeding sessions the first Friday of the month from 7:30-9:30!)

Don't know where we're located?
Click here for a map or go to the interactive campus map webpage.

General Information

When Sherman Lab was constructed, the courtyard area was hastily landscaped, leading to inappropriate plant selection and placement in some cases. Over the years, some interesting trees and shrubs have been added, but the hasty initial planning and the follow-up maintenance have led to the loss of many of the original understory shrubs and the need to frequently prune poorly-formed trees.

In response to these maintenance and aesthetics concerns, a group of NREM faculty and staff and the head of grounds and maintenance, Roxanne Adams, decided to undertake a relandscaping project for the courtyard. After many meetings, it was decided to use native Hawaiian plants that represented various ecosystems throughout Hawaii, from dry to mesic to wet. An initial plan was submitted to the Landscape Advisory Committee. The committee made many helpful suggestions, and the plans were revised. A final plan was approved by the committee, and then efforts were initiated to purchase the plants and prepare the site for replanting. A rough sketch of the planned landscape design can be found here. A list of the existing and new species to be planted along with some photos and background information is available below.

The People



  • Richard Criley -Plant Propagation, TPSS
  • Andrew Kaufman -Landscape Specialist, TPSS
  • James Deputy -Research Associate, TPSS
    -TPSS 364: Horticultural Practices class, Fall 2004
  • Steve Nagano-Urban Garden Center, plant signs
  • Many faculty staff, and students in NREM and the campus community. Thanks!

  • Funding provided through the RNRE program. Mahalo for their support!

The Plantings

Our first round of planting occurred on October 29, 2004. We put in most of our trees and shrubs that day. Roxanne Adams, the head of landscaping at UH-Manoa, and the grounds crew did a tremendous amount of work preparing the courtyard fo planting. Dr. Rich Criley, Professor of Horticulture in TPSS, propagated and donated the loulu palms for our courtyard. Dr. Andrew Kaufman, a CTAHR landscape specialist, helped us with the final design and placement of our plants and gave some instruction on proper planting techniques. Dr. Jay Deputy brought his TPSS 364-Horticultural Practices class to help with the planting and passed out t-shirts promoting native plants in public places.

The very next day was the infamous Manoa flood. Our courtyard plants survived with flying colors. However, the subsequent building clean up and repair did force us to delay our second round of planting, the groundcovers. Fortunately, we were able to round up another group of dedicated volunteers to get those plants in the ground on February 4th, 2005. Thanks to all who participated in our planting days.

Some photos of the planting days and the courtyard are available here.

Steve Nagano and staff at the Oahu Urban Garden Center made and donated signs for our new and existing plants, but feel free to ask any of our coordinators about the identity of specific plants in the courtyard. Detailed information about the plants we used are available below. If you would like more information about the native plants, including how to incorporate them into you own garden and landscape plantings, check out our links section at the bottom.

The Earth Day Dedication Ceremony

We held our official dedication and celebration of the courtyard on Earth Day 2005. John Osorio and Pua Kauila opened our ceremony with Hawaiian chants and some inspiring words about our project. After a brief telling of the history of the relandscaping effort, we gave our heartfelt thanks to many of the key people who helped make this vision a reality. We had a special planting of native plants donated by Sarah Erwin, one of our recent master's graduates, to honor her committee members. Afterwards, we broke for refreshments of mamaki tea, kava, and homemade macaroons and brownies. Photos of the event can be viewed here.

Although we are grateful to have this phase of the relandscaping project complete, we still have need of your support! Now that the plants are in the ground, we need to weed regularly and make note of any plants that seem sick, wilted, nutrient-deficient, or damaged by pests or diseases. We will hold regular weeding sessions the first Friday of every month from 8:00-10:00. It usually only takes an hour. Dr. Travis Idol will have trowels and gloves available for anyone who wants to participate. And usually someone brings refreshments to share.

Awards and Recognition

Our collaborative efforts to create a place for native plants in the Sherman Lab courtyard were recognized by Scenic Hawaii, Inc. at the 2005 Betty Crocker Landscape Awards banquet on the evening of July 11. Our garden won the Award of Excellence in the Community Garden category! Not all of us who led this effort were able to attend, but many others were. We were honored to have been chosen for this award. Our trophy was appropriately enough a beautifully carved wooden bowl with the award information embossed on a brass plaque.

The well-dressed group with their well-deserved award.

The beautiful trophy amongst the award-winning garden.

Roxanne Adams, head of landscaping at UH-Manoa and the key person responsible for helping with the design and implementation of the relandscaping project, was recently announced as this year's winner of the President’s Award for Excellence in Building and Grounds Maintenance. Read about it here. We're glad to have her partnering with us on this project!

We also received the 2006 Beautification Award in Government Landscaping from The Outdoor Circle. We are grateful for the recognition from such respected outdoor landscaping organizations. We hope our project serves as an inspiration to others.
Travis (left) with the other award winners.
The courtyard is also receiving coverage in local landscaping periodicals, the CTAHR News website, and the 2005 CTAHR Annual Impact Report. We're glad to receive the recognition, and we hope that the courtyard can serve not only as a showcase for native Hawaiian plants but also as an educational garden. We want students and the community to learn about the diversity of plants and ecosystems in Hawaii as well as recognize the beauty and utility of native plants in public spaces.

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Information on Sherman Courtyard Plants

After only 12-18 months of growth, the courtyard is filling in nicely and has created a welcoming space for our campus community. For those of you who have never visited our courtyard, the following page shows the courtyard layout and some images of what it looks like as of April 2006.

Jody Smith has put together a beautiful and informative factsheet on the plants listed below that can be downloaded, printed, or used in promotional materials. Just remember to give her credit for all her hard work and creativity.

Information on Existing Species

Ipê (Tabebuia impetiginosa)
  • Native to Brazil and Argentina.
  • This specimen derives from one of two original trees planted in Hawaii by members of the Pineapple Research Institute at UHM’s Krauss Hall.
Colville's Glory (Colvillea racemosa)
  • Native to Madagascar; discovered in 1824.
  • Lower risk/Near threatened taxon (CITES).
  • Fall blooming (September-October).
(Tabebuia chrysea)
  • Native to Venezuela and Colombia.
  • Said to be highly drought resistant.
  • Mass flowering following rains that end a dry period.

Information on New Species

Koai'a (Acacia koaia)
  • One of Hawaii’s rarest native trees, koai‘a are found naturally in dry open areas only on Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i and Hawai‘i island in very limited populations.
  • Similar in appearance to the Acacia koa but much smaller and adapted to drier conditions -- koai‘a is considered a good landscaping tree.
  • Hawaiians used the wood for tools such as kapa beaters and fish hooks, and for spears and paddles.
'Ohi'a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha)
  • Most common tree in Hawaii and extremely important in Hawaiian culture, an endemic plant found on all the main Hawaiian islands except Ni‘ihau and Kaho‘olawe.
  • This species is highly variable in size, flower color, leaf size and shape (polymorpha).
  • Native birds like the ‘i‘iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) feed on ‘ohi’a nectar.
  • Hawaiians used the wood in house construction and canoe building. Flowers, buds and leaf buds were used to make leis or to decorate hula altars. Religious carvings called kii were also made of ‘ohi’a.

In ancient times, the Hawaiian forests were sacred, but 'Ohi'a lehua was in particular a very special tree, being considered the abode of the great and powerful gods of creation, Ku and Kane. No commoner would dare to desecrate a branch or even pick a flower without first obtaining permission from the appropriate gods, goddesses and village chiefs. (Kepler, A.K.1984. Hawaiian Heritage Plants)

Kauila (Colubrina oppositfolia)
  • Federally listed endangered species.
  • One of Hawaii’s rarest native trees, occurs naturally only on dry leeward slopes of Hawai‘i island.
  • Hawaiians used the very hard wood to make heavy tools, weapons, kapa beaters and kahili poles.
Hapu'u (Cibotium spp.)
  • Hawaii’s premier endemic tree fern, found on most islands in semi-dry to wet forests growing in association with ‘ohi‘a lehua.
  • Known to Hawaiians as "mother of the forest" because many other plants initially grow on the moist, fibrous trunk of the hapu‘u; many native birds and land snails live in their shade.
  • Ancient Hawaiians used pulu ("hairs") for dressing wounds and embalming. The edible starch in the core of the trunk was eaten during famine.
Loulu (Pritchardia remota)
  • Each Hawaiian island has at least one unique species of loulu, the native Hawaiian fan palm.
  • Hawaiians used loulu seeds for food, trunks for construction, and leaves for thatching.

Munroidendron racemosum

  • Endangered Hawaiian tree endemic to Kauai.
  • Plants are threatened by ungulate grazing; seeds are eaten by rats, preventing reproduction.
  • No known Hawaiian word for this tree!
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A'ali'i (Dodenaea viscosa)
  • Indigenous to all the main Hawaiian islands, except Kaho‘olawe.
  • Hawaiians used the wood for house posts and spears, leaves and flowers for medicine, and seed capsules for lei.
  • Considered a royal plant by the Hawaiians and the subject of several ‘olelo no‘eau.
He a‘ali‘i ku makani mai au; ‘a‘ohe makani nana e kula‘i.
I am a wind-resisting a‘ali‘i; no gale can push me over.

A boast meaning 'I can hold my own even in the face of difficulties.' The a‘ali‘i bush can stand the worst of gales, twisting and bending but seldom breaking off or falling over.--Mary Kawena Pukui, ‘Olelo No’eau.

Mamaki (Pipturus albidus)
  • Endemic plant commonly seen in mesic valleys and forests, found on all islands except Kaho‘olawe.
  • Native Kamehameha butterflies (pulelehua) feed on the leaves of the mamaki and native birds eat their berries.
  • Used medicinally by ancient Hawaiians and makes a wonderful tea.
Hibiscus koki'o 'ula'ula (Hibiscus kokio Hillebr. subspp. saintjohnianus)
  • Very rare endemic plant found in the coastal valleys of northwestern Kaua‘i.
  • Named after one of Hawaii's most beloved botanists, Harold St. John.
  • Hawaiians used the juice from the leaves and the buds of native Hibiscus species as a gentle laxative and the flowers as an astringent.
Ko‘oloa‘ula (Abutilon menziesii)
  • Federally listed endangered species.
  • Found in dry forests of Lana’i, East Maui and Hawai’i island.
  • Sometimes called "red ‘ilima" and can be grown easily in the home garden.
Kulu'i (Nototrichium sandwicense)
  • Endemic to dry foothills, exposed ridges, and open, dry lowland forests on all main islands.
  • Highly variable in leaf size and shape, density of hair, and length of spikes with more than 20 varieties having been described.
  • Used in contemporary lei making.
Kulu'i (Nototrichium humile)
  • Endemic species native to O‘ahu and East Maui.

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'Ilima papa (Sida fallax)
  • Indigenous plant found on all Hawaiian islands.
  • Highly variable species in stature, hairiness, and flower color.
  • Lei makers strung hundreds of blossoms into the coveted lei ‘ilima, lei of O‘ahu, worn by Hawaiian royalty.
Naio papa (Myoporum sandwicense)
  • Found naturally only on South Point of Hawai‘i island.
  • Same species as naio tree, but this variety grows low to the ground, hence its name naio papa or "flat naio".
Kupukupu (Nephrolepis cordifolia)
  • Indigenous Hawaiian sword fern, the first plant to colonize lava flows with ‘ohi‘a lehua, fairly common on all Hawaii's main islands in mesic to wet forests.
  • Often placed on hula altars to symbolize a place of learning or sprouting knowledge by the dancers (the word "kupu" means "to sprout.").
  • Used in contemporary lei making and can be grown easily in the home garden.
Palapalai (Microlepia strigosa)
  • Indigenous plant found on all the main Hawaiian islands.
  • Ancient Hawaiians used the fronds to decorate hula altars dedicated to Laka, the goddess of hula.
  • Used in contemporary lei making and can be grown easily in the home garden.

Pohinahina (Vitex rotundifolia)

  • Indigenous ground cover found on the beaches of most of the main Hawaiian Islands.
  • Now is commonly used in urban landscaping and restoration projects.
  • Leaves were used as a medicinal tea by Native Hawaiians; leaves and flowers now used in traditional lei.

'Ilie'e (Plumbago zeylanica)

  • Indigenous ground cover found on all the main Hawaiian Islands in dry areas from coastal dunes to forest understories.
  • Was used medicinally by Native Hawaiians; is still an important commercial herbal medicine in India and elsewhere.
  • Leaf morphology differs visibly between full-sun and shade-grown plants.

Mahalo to Dr. Richard Criley, Professor of Horticulture, for propagating and contributing the Pritchardia remota and to Roxanne Adams, UH Manoa Grounds Manager, for propagating and contributing the Hibiscus arnottianus, Abutilon menziesii, and the Plumbago zeylanica.

Mahalo to Dr. Curt Daehler in Botany for donating the Munroidendron racemosum. Thanks also to Steve Nagano in NREM for making the signs for our plants.

Mahalo to Forest and Kim Starr of the USGS and Dr. Gerry Carr of UH-Manoa's Botany department for making selected images of native Hawaiian plants available for this website. Visit Forest and Kim Starr's webpage: Plants of Hawaii at the Hawaii Ecosystems at Risk website. Visit Dr. Carr's webpage: Hawaiian Native Plant Genera at the Botany department's website.

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Native Plant References


How to Plant a Native Hawaiian Garden: Online Handbook

CTAHR free publications about growing ornamental plants, including several native plants

Native Hawaiian plants for landscaping, conservation, and reforestation
by Heidi L. Bornhorst and Fred D. Rauch
(this is a pdf document, so you may want to download it rather than displaying it in your web browser).

Plants to Control Streambank Erosion
by Lisa Ferentinos and Jody Smith

Hawaiian Native Plant Genera, University of Hawaii

Dept. of Botany

Meet the Plants, National Tropical Botanical Garden

Native Plants for Water Conservation
presentation made by Amy Tsuneyoshi, Watershed Planner, Honolulu Board of Water Supply

Plants for the Island of Maui: What and How to Plant in Your Area, Maui Dept. of Water Supply


Bornhorst, Heidi. Growing Native Hawaiian Plants; A How-to Guide for the Gardener, The Best Press, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 1971.
(introductory guide on growing native plants)

Culliney, John L. and Koebele, Bruce P., A Native Hawaiian Garden, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 1999.
(more advanced guide to native plants and their propagation)

Growing Plants for Hawaiian Lei, CTAHR University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 2002.
(guidebook to growing lei plants for home or commercially, including horticultural, cultural and business information. Click here for a flier in pdf format)

McDonald, Marie A., and Weissich, Paul R. Na Lei Makamae: The Treasured Lei, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 2003.
(Book about pre-contact lei and the native and Polynesian plants used to make them)

Last updated on  12/07/05