March 2010

Hawaiian White Ginger

Known to botanists as Hedychium coronarium, this plant now so very closely identified with Hawaii is not a native of the islands. It originates in India,

in the foothills of the Himalyas, from whence it was distributed throughout Polynesia, and was brought to the Hawaiian islands in the canoes of Polynesian settlers. There are several closely related varieties of ginger, all known as Awapuhi. There are red and yellow versions of the flowers, but the one that is most closely associated with Hawaii is the Awapuhi ke, the sweetly scented flowering white ginger. The White Ginger was also used in food and medicine, as well as enjoyed in leis and for its lovely scent. The leaves and stalks were used to wrap fish and pork before cooking them in the underground oven, the imu.

Texas Wildflowers Spring Explosion

From about mid February

through early April, Texas erupts in an explosion of wild flowers. Texas' state flower, the Bluebonnet, along with Buttercups and Indian paint brushes flourish along the state highways, and in otherwise unused meadows. Different regions of Texas are known for different species. The Texas hill country, from about March through June, turns into a landscape of vivid blues, yellows and reds because of the Bluebonnets, Black-eyed Susans, Indian Paintbrushes, Mexican poppies, Winecups, Indian blankets, and other less showy wild flowers. East Texas is better known for flowering shrubs, especially Dogwoods, Azaleas in various colors, sweetly scented Yellow Jasmine, and Wisteria. The wildflowers look as if they've been painted and poured over the landscape, flourishing on roadsides, highway margins, and meadows.