Waimea Country School’s second- and third-graders recently visited the Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden as part of their social studies unit on the Hawaiian people and their plants.
The students began by looking at some of the 200 species of plants growing in four zones — coastal, dry forest, agricultural and upland forest — that represent an ahupuaa. The garden’s plants are typical of what one would have found on traditional farms and in the native forests before Capt. James Cook arrived.
“We started at the top of the gardens in the mountain zone,” said Waimea Country School teacher Hayley Blondin. “The students loved seeing the view, sitting under the shade of the koa trees, and hearing the song and story and significance of the elepaio bird.”
“I liked the story about the elepaio. The Hawaiians would watch to see if the bird would peck the koa tree. If it did, they knew there were bugs in it and they shouldn’t use the tree for their canoes,” said student Duncan McCarthy.
Another highlight from the trip was the hau tree, Blondin said. “My students liked how cold the hau felt after being in the sun for a long time, and they enjoyed making cordage from the branches of the tree.”