Native Hawaiian sumac common on Big Island
By Heidi Bornhorst
|Nice groves of the red-flowered coral tree or tiger's claw, Erythrina variegata, can be found at Magic Island and on the University of Hawai'i-Manoa campus.
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A. We have a native Hawaiian sumac, Rhus sandwicensis, or neneleau. On O'ahu, it is found only at Ho'omaluhia Botanic Garden. But on the Big Island, it is fairly common on the Hamakua Coast and in the Waipi'o Valley.
All I know about neneleau is that it is not poisonous like its Mainland relatives. This is a great Web site you are sharing with our readers. There are many species of Rhus. We need to make sure we are cooking with the correct one.
What's in bloom
The red-flowered coral tree or tiger's claw, Erythrina variegata, is in its spring- blooming splendor. Nice groves can be found at Magic Island, on the University of Hawai'i-Manoa campus, at the state forestry building downtown, and at Kualoa Regional Park.
Enjoy this brief blooming while it's happening. These trees have long pods with dark reddish seeds that look like kidney beans. Lei makers like these.
This tree is related to our native Hawaiian wiliwili, Erythrina sandwicensis, that usually blooms in summer. It has gorgeous pastel flowers and bright red or orange beans.
Amaryllis also is in bloom. There is a pale apricot form found in many old kama'aina gardens. I saw some in Palolo and Makiki. The Palolo gardeners also had one of the hybrids in deep burgundy. This is my sister Mimi's favorite flowering plant. She likes the common old-fashioned ones and also has a blooming collection of some of the hybrids.
Amaryllis blooms well in Hawai'i gardens when grown in bright light with its roots somewhat restricted in a clay pot.
The pale orange ones do great in the ground and make for nice ground cover or accent planting.
Top-dressing your amaryllis bed with red or black cinder is a plus for its good looks, soil enhancement and to help repel slugs and snails.
Heidi Bornhorst is a sustainable-landscape consultant. Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or Island Life, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802. Letters may be published or distributed in print, electronic or other forms.