Sunday | February 26, 2017
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Festival celebrates Hawaii’s plants and culture

The Grow Hawaiian Festival has grown. This weekend, the Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden will celebrate the festival, in its ninth year, Friday through Feb. 24.

From noon to 4 p.m. Friday, taro experts Jerry Konanui and Keahi Tomas will pound poi with local schoolchildren at the garden’s visitor center. The event is open to observers and those who want to try wielding a traditional pounding stone to make poi from cooked taro. Pounders will get to taste the poi as a reward for their efforts.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, festivities begin with the blowing of a conch. Historical remarks honoring Amy B.H. Greenwell, as well as a hula performance, will be included in the opening ceremonies.

The garden is owned by the Bishop Museum and is one of several outstanding botanical gardens in the state. Representatives from The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Maui Nui Botanical Garden, Waimea Valley, Honolulu Botanical Garden, Lyon Arboretum and the National Tropical Botanical Garden will report on new developments at their gardens.

A recounting of taro growers’ experiences getting Hawaiian taro to market will follow the botanical gardens’ reports. Then, Betty Kam and Marques Marzan from the Bishop Museum project on lauhala hats will discuss their project as part of a show of hats created by local weavers.

Native plant enthusiast and writer Heidi Bornhorst will talk about incorporating native plants in the garden. Tom Cummings returns to the festival this year for his lunchtime story-telling.

Local Hawaiian agriculture expert Noa Lincoln will offer a historical view of the ways precontact Hawaiians made Kona soil highly productive, using only locally available resources. His presentation will be followed by a round-table discussion by conservation professionals reviewing the challenges and opportunities they are facing.

Demonstrations of Hawaiian cultural art will also be offered throughout the day. Participants will learn about lauhala weaving, ipu gourd decorating, kapa making, woodworking, Hawaiian dyeing techniques and lei making. Hands-on activities will be available for keiki and adults.

Some of the state’s foremost artisans will be in attendance. Marie McDonald, with her daughter, Roen Hufford, will demonstrate unusual lei-making techniques. Experts in dyeing, kapa making, ipu art, woodworking, lauhala weaving and cordage making will display their art and offer information on the creative process.

Experts will answer gardening or cultural questions. At the plant identification booth, botanists Clyde Imada and Marie Bruegmann will identify mystery plants. Mysterious insects can be identified by David Preston of Bishop Museum and Jerry Konanui will identify taro varieties. Bernice Akamine, who just returned from training in conserving kapa at the Smithsonian Institution, will offer advice on handling and storing this Hawaiian cloth. The West Hawaii Master Gardeners will be available to answer plant questions.

A recipe contest with several categories will be part of the event. Entries with a recipe and all ingredients must be submitted by Wednesday to in order to be considered. For more information, call Una at 328-8888.

Tours of the garden with ethnobotany experts Bobby Camara, Bill Garnett and David Orr will be offered at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. with lomi lomi massage available afterward. Book signings and a Hawaiian food booth will round out the offerings until closing at 2:30 p.m.

On Feb. 24, Camara will lead a tour of archeological sites and geologic features at Kalaemano. The two-and-a-half-hour tour starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Kaupulehu Cultural Center.

The garden is located 12 miles south of Kailua-Kona on Highway 11, just south of mile marker 110. More information on all events can be found online at, via email to or by calling the garden at 323-3318.

This year’s Grow Hawaiian Festival is presented by Hawaii Forest and Trail with a grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Additional support has been provided by Kukio, Kealakekua Ranch Ltd., Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center and Kamehameha Schools.

All events are free.

Tropical gardening helpline

Connie asks: The leaves on my lemon tree are all crinkly and have some weird black seed-like things around the edges. What’s going on?

Answer: It looks like you have two separate issues on the leaves of your lemon tree.

First, the black “seeds” lodged between the top and bottom layer of the leaf at the margin are eggs laid by the Japanese broad winged katydid, Holochlora japonica. Their presence has little or no relation to the crinkly appearance of the leaf.

That curling or crinkling of the leaf is most likely caused by the broad mite. These mites usually feed on new leaves but can also attack the fruit, eating the rind, causing a bronzing or dulling of the skin. In neither case is the damage threatening your tree. It is mostly cosmetic.

If you want to spray with soap and oil, you may discourage the mites that are likely causing the leaf crinkling. They are usually attracted to flushes of new growth that often appear in the spring or just after fertilizing with nitrogen. Cut back on the nitrogen a bit if you find your tree putting out lots of succulent new growth.

For more information on growing citrus in Hawaii, check out the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources publication, “Citrus for Hawaii’s Yards and Gardens,” at

Email plant questions to for answers by certified master gardeners. Some questions will be chosen for inclusion in this column.

Diana Duff is a plant adviser, educator and consultant with an organic farm in Captain Cook.