Native Plant Garden

The native plant restoration project at EHCC took place in the Spring of 2024 and was made possible with funding from the Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation. Designed in partnership with Laulima Nature Center, landscaper Yoga Ida Bagus from Home Sweet Home LLC, and artists Sculptural Accents, the plants enhance EHCC’s outdoor spaces and offer an opportunity for education on their historical and cultural significance. Below you will find information about each of the plants represented.

Trees & Palms (In front and on sides of main building)


Cibotium glaucum

Hāpuʻu is an endemic Hawaiian tree fern that acts as a canopy species in Hawaiian forests, growing up to 20 feet tall. Historically, the core of the hāpuʻu trunk was eaten during times of famine. The pulu or soft “hair” found around the fiddleheads was used for dressing wounds. Hāpuʻu populations dropped significantly in the mid-1800s when the pulu became a popular export to the US and Europe for use as pillow and mattress stuffing. Today, hāpuʻu is a common landscaping plant.


Cordyline fruticosa

Ti is a beautiful, showy plant that was introduced to Hawaiʻi by Polynesians. This culturally significant plant has many uses, including medicine, food, roof thatching, clothing, and ceremonial practices. ʻŌkolehao, an alcoholic spirit distilled from the root of ti plants, was developed in the late 1700s by English sailors. Translating to “iron bottom,” this spirit’s name references the iron pots used in the original distillation process. Today, ti is a popular landscaping plant and a beloved choice for lei-making given its widespread availability. 


Colocasia esculenta

Kalo (also known as taro), is a Polynesian-introduced plant that served as a staple food crop in early Hawaiʻi. Kalo represents the source of life and is viewed as the elder brother of humans. The corm is harvested and either steamed or turned into delicious dishes such as poi and kūlolo, while the leaves are cooked into dishes such as laulau and lūʻau. There were once hundreds of kalo varieties cultivated in Hawaiʻi, but today only around 80 varieties remain in cultivation. Despite this varietal loss, kalo remains a popular crop throughout the islands. Kalo farming not only supports Hawaii’s economy, but also perpetuates Hawaiian culture and lifeways.

Ground cover (around entire property)


Vitex rotundifolia

Pōhinahina is an indigenous sprawling shrub in the mint family. This plant acts as ground cover along shorelines, serving as erosion control and protecting coral reefs from sediment runoff. Pōhinahina leaves and fruit were traditionally used in medicine while the beautiful purple flowers were used in lei-making. Today, pōhinahina is a popular plant in landscaping given its hearty properties and ability to easily grow. These qualities also make pōhinahina a wonderful choice for outplanting in ecosystem restoration projects.

Ferns (in front of annex)


Nephrolepis cordifolia

Kupukupu is a native Hawaiian swordfern that is famous for being one of the first plants to appear after a lava flow. This property of kupukupu has led to the plant’s symbology of growth (kupu means “to sprout”). Kupukupu was historically used for hula altars, hula adornments, and traditional medicine. Today, kupukupu is a popular landscaping plant as it is quite easy to propagate and serves as a beautiful ground cover. Kupukupu can be found in the wild across the main Hawaiian islands, growing in a variety of habitats from 100 to roughly 5,000 feet in elevation. 

Shrubs (against makai and mauka fence)

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo

Hibiscus arnottianus

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo is an endemic Hawaiian shrub and is the only hibiscus in the world with a fragrance. Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo grows naturally in mesic to wet Hawaiian forests, but early Hawaiians propagated this hibiscus for planting around their homes. Modern landscaping often incorporates kokiʻo keʻokeʻo as a hedge because of its beautiful foliage and white flowers. 

Naupaka kahakai

Scaevola taccada

Naupaka kahakai is an indigenous shrub found along shorelines across Hawaiʻi. Also known as beach naupaka, this gorgeous plant helps with erosion control and provides habitat to native wildlife. Different parts of naupaka kahakai were used medicinally to treat a variety of ailments while the fleshy white fruit was sometimes used as a food source. The tradition of making lei from naupaka flowers still remains strong today. The hardy properties of naupaka kahakai make this plant a popular choice for landscaping.