132. Hawaii Overview

Aloha and welcome to Hawaii, a paradise on earth! The Hawaiian Islands are a hotspot of biodiversity, where evolution in isolation resulted in many rare and fascinating species of plants.

It is estimated that about 270 different species originally colonized the Hawaiian Islands and then evolved to form the unique and diverse plant communities that persist to this day. Unfortunately, many of these plants are now endangered, or have already gone extinct.

Hawaii represents less than one percent of the total land mass of the United States. But it has close to half of the nation’s rare and endangered plant and animal species. 

Look around this room. You may notice that there are no orchids, plumeria, or other showy flowers we normally associate with Hawaii. We don’t display them because they were brought to the islands by humans—in other words, they are not native to Hawaii.

Our Hawaiian plant collection was created with help from the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii. It offers an opportunity to appreciate native plants and to consider what we will lose if they go extinct.