Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Playing With Plants - Hawaii Nostalgia Trip Continued!

Tonight - more plants I loved as a kid growing up in Hawaii.

Less words, more pictures, and MUCH more silly!


First up - the mighty Banyan tree. Best in the world (at least the parts of the world I've seen) for climbing!

The real name of the plant below (which I just found out myself) is Bryophyllum, but most of the people I knew called these "air plants", because it takes nothing but air to start new ones. If you pick a leaf & pin it to a curtain, before too long each notched point on the leaf starts sprouting tiny leaves & roots! Nice picture here of a leaf with new sprouts coming along. Eventually they will want their roots in soil (which is what set me a-googling for a name other than "air plant" - you get a lot of plants in an "air plant" search but this is not one of 'em) but it's such an interesting thing to watch these starting off with no sustenance other than the air & the leaf from which they spring.

Sleeping grass. Why is sleeping grass fun?

Because it does this!

BTW, the time I was shooting this was one of those moments I was glad I was on my own this time - I think I would've been too embarrassed to explain to somebody why I needed to spend as much time as I did taking pictures of trailside weeds. But I was just fascinated with this stuff when I was a kid, couldn't walk past a patch without stopping to play with it.

Strawberry guava - not so much a plaything as a hiker's trailside treat.

Unfortunately, they are also one of the worst invasives around & have a pretty dramatic effect -
but I still enjoyed the one I found.


I think I would love these trees even if they didn't have a "toy component" (as we say in the children's publishing industry) simply because they remind me of every camp I ever went to as a kid in Hawaii & because I love the sound they make when the wind sets those long needles whispering among themselves.

But I was also VERY fond of playing with these tiny cones & slender twigs they drop.

Here's what you do with them - you collect a few twigs & cones. You break the twigs into various lengths --

and then you have --

Tinkertoys! I always made little goatlike critters out of them, like this one, but I bet a cleverer kid could get a LOT more complicated with them.

And in closing, here is some pure silliness with the lovely Hibiscus, as promised (or threatened) in my Pua O Ka Honua post.
I'd mentioned that our hibiscus hedge was so big I'd carved a little secret playhouse into it. I'd also mentioned that there was something very silly that we did with the flowers - well, here you are!

First, you need to find a nice red or pink hibiscus.
Pull off a single petal.
Carefully split the petal at the base. Peel the two sides apart for an inch or so. Now stick the petal on the bridge of your nose, and viiiii-ola --

you're a rooster! Cockadoodledoo!


Baydog said...

The rooster crows in the morning,
To tell us when to rise;
And he that lies too late,
Will never become wise.
For early to bed and early to rise,
Is the way to be healthy, wealthy, and wise.

What a great vacation you had, Bonnie!

Pandabonium said...

Oh my, does this post bring back memories. The huge banyan tree in Lahaina. And one at Taveuni Estates in Fiji as well.

Sleeping Grass reminds of our Monkey pod tree which also would close up at night or during a rain storm.

We had an ironwood tree in our front yard, the roots of which broke our water main - in the middle of the night of course. The next day was spent digging up and cutting through the roots - and yes, they were like iron! Never thought of making things out of the seeds. Mostly just cursed the bloody thing.

Never saw strawberry guavas, but used to have a passion fruit vine and loved finding mountain apple on hikes.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Anonymous said...

Sleeping grass in Mexico is called "sin verguenza" - without shame - for the way it reacts when touched.

Buck said...

I'm stupid enough to walk around strange places in bare feet. Those ironwood cones taught me to reconsider that behaviour!

We do the 'peel & stick' with maple tree wings here. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw that done with a hibiscus petal. Kids will be kids, thank heaven!

bonnie said...

Baydog - It was fabulous. I'm not sure I've ever had a vacation that was so purely dedicated to indulging personal whims (nostalgic & otherwise) on a schedule entirely of my own setting.

Pandabonium, aren't banyans amazing? And what an ironwood story - that doesn't sound like any fun at all. I was actually took a look at a site about Hawaiian woods as I was doing this post last night & they said something like "Ironwood is difficult to work, but can be crafted into nearly indestructable furniture". "Nearly indestructable" sounds like a great quality but when that same "nearly indestructable" wood starts causing damage - yikes. No fun!

Fun fact, Brian. Pretty funny! Shameless plant!

And yes, Buck, I ALMOST mentioned something about how these same little cones that I liked to play with do make barefoot walking into a very hazardous endeavor.

Not quite as bad as those horrid little water chestnuts (aka "devil seeds") we have around here - man, the threat of the ironwood cone underfoot is nullified by the flimsiest pair of flipflops - but those spiky little waterchestnuts can go right through a thin sole if you step on one right!

bonnie said...

Oh, and Buck, sounds like you might appreciate this -

One of the many small delights of this trip was being back in a place where walking around barefoot is not strange! There were a couple of points at which I was walking around barefoot in Waikiki & I couldn't help comparing how NORMAL it felt, compared to a recent Sebago paddle where I ended up going into the town of Broad Channel barefoot. I'd forgotten my booties & because of the way we'd parked our kayaks it was going to be tricky to get to the sneakers in the bow compartment. I decided to skip the shoes & it felt too weird for words.

pia said...

Love this post! The flowers are wonderful
I know you grew up in Hawaii and have known that since I first knew you about five years ago.

But you're such a great New Yorker, I have a hard time imagining you growing up in Hawaii

Barista Uno said...

Nothing like tropical flora. I understand that the best orchids in the world can be found in Borneo. Davao province in Mindanao, the southern Philippines, is also orchid country. Just stay away from the wild grass and weeds, where reside some creatures who eschew strangers.

Nice photos you posted.

O Docker said...

Loved this.

It made me think about how differently kids play today - or urban kids, at least. It's easy to connect some dots and see how this kind of play could lead to a wider curiosity about and respect for nature in later life. Did you notice any kids there doing the same sort of things you did at their age?

Or were they all at home with their Nintendos? Some things you can't discover on Google.

Pandabonium said...

I have a picture of Kimie swinging on a banyan tree "aerial root".

Oh, yeah, stepping on ironwood cones in bare feet. Grrr. But worse was going to the beach and stepping on kiawe tree thorns. Awe! They go right through a rubber slipper.

On the bright side, one of my favorite flowers is pikake. Such a heavenly fragrance!

clairesgarden said...

I remeber those plants that fold up when you toch them, we had some as pot plants in the house, I think they probalby died from exhaustion of being made to fold up so much!
I love the stick animals!!
do you think children nowadays would have enought imagination to do this? if they could even put down their electronic toys for long enough?

Carol Anne said...

Gerald never had a video game growing up, and as far as I know, if his friends had one, they didn't use it much. One pair of friends had a "pirate hideout" in the back yard, and another friend had a "secret clubhouse" dug into the dirt in the cawlspace under the house.

Thanks to Boy Scouts, he also gained a love of the outdoors; hence, his current career plan to become a park ranger. He wants to be able to work outdoors, in a beautiful place, and indulge in his photography on his time off.

Pua; Bakin' and Tendin' Bar said...

Wow..I totally skipped over the Banyan tree, which is CRAZY! One of my favorite pictures of my kids is one of all three of them up in a Banyan in Kailua. It reminds me of all the fun my cousins and I used to have climbing and swinging like monkeys. Such carefree days. It made me smile to see my kids doing the same.

As for the Ironwoods, it always gives me chicken skin when I hear Na Leo Pilimehana singing "North Shore Seranade":

Come along, take a ride
to the isle's North side
Through the winding ironwood trees.
But be sure to take care no one
follows you there as you drift along on the breeze.

For if anyone knew where I'm taking
you to, they'd surely never depart
The magical coast that I love the most,
Nearest and dearest, my heart...

Also..AUWE! No kidding on the kiawe stickers Pandabonium mentioned. Oh the number of rubbah slippahs in the dead slippah basket cuz all da thorns make BEEG pukas!

Mahalo Bonnie..that was fun. And thank you for your kind thoughts about Ellie. She's doing so well and we're all so relieved. I hope you're getting well away from that cold of yours.

bowsprite said...

gorgeous gorgeous! i LOVE your Tinkercones! well. welcome back! xoxo