Tuberoses for our friendship garden

By Heidi Bornhorst

The fragrance of tuberose! One of my Mother’s favorites, as a lei of tuberose and yellow roses are what my dad got her for their simple wedding ceremony. She also loved the smell of pineapple, because my dad gifted her with those too!

I like them in a lei, combined with other flowers like roses, carnations or orchids.

Florists carry this fragrant lei and if you grow your own, imagine what flowers from your garden you can combine with tuberose?

It’s an old-fashioned flower.

We used to grow a lot of them here in Hawaii. When I worked at Evergreen nurseries in Waimanalo, in 1978, one of my friends there, was working a second job, harvesting tuberose.

Her name was Estralita, and she was from the PI and recently married.  I think her new family really made her work hard!  At two jobs and at home.  She said they harvested in the dark using headlamps.

She told me that her named meant “star” and how appropriate that she worked at night when the stars came out!

She taught me the saying ‘Mabuhay las Philippinas !!’  Long life to Filipino women!

I wonder what happened to her, as she was kind, nice FUN and hardworking.

Tuberoses remind me of her, and I say a special prayer for her happiness. 

I got some from Estralita back then and grew it in our family garden in Makiki.  It did well for a while and even sent up a flower spike.  But then it got a very bad infestation of mealy bugs.  I treated it but they were too severe, and the plant died. I was sad.

Maybe tuberose does not like Makiki black sand as a potting media? Or it needs cooler conditions. Time to do some research and find out!

​The other day I got an email from my friend Ruth Fujita, another great gardener.

She was offering us, her Budleys, tuberose bulbs. She had a big plant and dug it up, dried out the bulbs a bit and had some to share with da girls.

So, Rachel Morton and I went up there, after a visit to Foster garden to see the Triennial art exhibit.

Ruth shared how she got the tuberose bulbs:

Our niece Tia C. had gone traveling.  She needed omiyage for her epic Aunt Ruth and so in the airport she bought a bulb in a package.

Ruth grew them and was now sharing them with Lynne, Cheryl, Doris Susan Young, Annie, and me and Rachel.

Such an epitome of the Friendship Garden: Grow something with love (and good horticulture!) and then share it with your friends.

With rare plants, this is a Botanic Gardenconcept: Share it and keep good records. If yours dies, you know right where you can get a replacement.

With plants of sentiment like this tuberose, its mainly sharing the wealth and the stories.  But it will be epic for us all to see them grow and Bloom!

People call it a bulb but the roots are actually a rhizome (just like our fragrant gingers)

Fragrant, showy flowers in the late, HOT summertime lead many to plant tuberose bulbs. The scientific name is Polianthes tuberosa, and it also called the Polyanthus lily. It is in the Lily family, LILIACEAE.

Florists and nurseries sometimes “force” tuberose to bloom year round with artificial lighting.  

Tuberose has a strong and enticing fragrance makes it a popular plant in our Hawaii gardens. Clusters of large white blooms form on stalks that can reach 4 feet (1 m.) in height and rise from grass-like clumps.

Tuberose was discovered by explorers in Mexico as early as the 1500’s.  It was one of the first flowers to be imported to Europe, where it was very popular in Spain. 

It likes well drained, compost enriched soil.  It likes FULL SUN especially hot afternoon sun (which not all plants do) 

Plant them 2-3” deep.

In cold regions they dig out the roots in winter.  In Hawaii we can dig them out hand let them rest but not for too long or they will dry out.

There are single and double flowered varieties and now we are seeing them in different colors like yellow and pale pink.

Pandan Wangi

By Heidi Bornhorst

Pandanus amaryllifolius
Working at the Honolulu Zoo, we were helping move and relocate plants for the community gardens from behind the zoo on Paki, to a new garden on Leahi and Paki.  As we were helping the (unhappy) gardeners, I heard Victorino Acorda, one of our best Gardeners and true plantsman exclaim in delight!
‘Pandan wangi!  Makes the rice taste so good Heidi!  I’ve been looking for this plant since I moved here from the PI!’
He was almost crying; he was so happy!
Then the other day I was stuck in morning traffic on Mo`oheau St in Kapahulu.  To amuse myself I looked closely at gardens along the street.  There was a really nice garden with a southeast Asia flavor.  First, I noticed nice clumps of lemon grass and some healthy papaya trees.
What was the clumping bright green plant in front of the lemon grass?  PANDAN WANGI!


So attractive in this landscape design and so useful.
We have it growing in the southeast Asian plant section at Ho’omaluhia Botanic Garden.  One year it was a featured plant at our plant sale, and we hope to feature it again once we can open up our gardens safely once again.
It is fairly easy to grow.  You can divide the clump and make new plants.  
 

Those who know this plant usually just call it pandan. There are many ways you can cook with it.
Some call Pandan, the Vanilla of the east, or the vanilla of Southeast Asia.
You can boil with whole leaves and combine them with other ingredients.  You can wrap foods in them and then cook them (like we do with Ti leaves).
If you’re handy with your blender, grind some fresh leaves with water and then freeze the juice in a mold or ice cube tray and use it for drinking or cooking later.
You could also add it to GREEN SMOOTHIES
Some just buy a bottle of pandan paste.  Lexi had some from Singapore, she had it quite a while I smelled it and then read the label.  It smelled really ono. The ingredients not so much.
How do we make it from the fresh leaves that we can grow in our Gardens?
You can just chop it up and add to the rice pot as you cook your rice.
You can make tea with the leaves. You can add your favorite tea like jasmine to the pot.  Pour hot water over both and let steep for Five minutes.
I made some with just hot water, poured over and steeped over leaves. it tasted ok
On 9 28 21 trying strip leaves lengthwise in 3s, add Olena and ginger powders, and three mamaki leaves, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or so. It Smells really good!
There are lots of Creative and Foodie things you can do with pandan:
• Twist the leaves into Roses like we do with Ti leaves
• Little cups for deserts
• You can make green smoothies with it
• Pandan Chicken and Pandan Rice
• Grilled Fish stuffed with Pandan are just a few recipes that are popular.
And many desserts, variously featuring coconut milk, and various sugars like palm sugar.
If you look online there are lots of recipes, some quite layered and complex.  Some really pretty drinks and you insert a leaf tip to give it that final Flare of Gourmet Drink décor.
It gives the dish a lovely green color and subtle flavor.
I took some in mixed arrangement as a hostess gift for Lexi Hada and Barney Robinson.  One of their guests, Teua from the Cook Islands admired it, drew it out of the arrangement and sniffed it.
As he ran his hands over the glossy thornless leaves, we talked about it.  He recognized it as a Pandanus, or HALA relative but NO THORNS! We all wondered how it would be for weaving.
The Latin name, Pandanus amaryllifolius refers to this. The growth is much like a hala, but the leaves are soft and shiny with no thorns.
Besides being ONO, it’s a very attractive garden accent or spotlight plant in your garden.
I also like it as an exciting and exotic foliage element in a Tropical Flower arrangement.
We plan to feature it at a Future Covid 19 safe FOHBG plant sale.
 

Growing Cashew Trees for Hawaii

 Growing Cashew Trees for Hawaii

By Heidi Bornhorst

I found out writing this that you can eat the fruit of cashews and its high in vitamin C and good for your teeth and gums.

Linda Neumann who has a farm on Kaua’i helped me learn more.

It would be a pretty, and fun fruit tree to add to our gardens. Lots of other useful and yummy things come from Cashew trees.

For years we had a Cashew tree growing at Foster Botanic Garden. It’s in the Economic section of the garden. In this section we grow plants with various economic value or potential such as herbs, spices, medicines, food, and even poisons.

The main thing we were taught about cashews, is “Handle with extreme care”. If it is not ripe enough, or too ripe Abunai! (Danger in Japanese) It is hard, and possibly toxic to harvest and process the hard-shelled seeds (nuts). You need to harvest at just the right time, and then extract the seed carefully. Juice from the shell around the fruit may burn your skin.

That is why I’m happy to buy this heart healthy nut at the store!

Interestingly the toxic principles in the shell may make a good insecticide! Research continues.

The Latin name is Anacardium occidentale, (“Ana’ means upward, and “Cardium” refers to the heart). Cashew is in the Mango family, Anacardiaceae. Cashews are native to Brazil and Tropical America

Relatives include Fruit trees like Mango, Wi or Otaheite apple, Hog plum (my Honey’s favorite, one grows and Fruits in Foster Garden). Christmas berry tree is related. Poisonous relatives are poison ivy and sumac, and the Marking nut tree.

Flowers are greenish yellow, fragrant and grow in panicles. Bees like to visit and pollinate the flowers. The trees can grow up to 40 feet in ideal conditions, we usually find shorter, wider trees here in Hawaii.

The fruit and nut are very interesting to see. The “fruit” that catches our eye is actually a “false fruit” or pseudocarp. Some call this a “cashew apple” Being Eurocentric they called all kinds of tropical fruits “apples”!

The actual fruit (botanically speaking) of the cashew tree is a yellow or red kidney shaped drupe that grows at the end of the cashew apple. The drupe develops first on the tree, and then the pedicel expands to become the cashew apple. The true fruit contains a single seed, which is generally considered to be a nut.

Aren’t plants wonderful and Complex?!

The attractive colorful and juicy fruit is an adaptation to attract fruit eating animals to aid in seed dispersal.

Although it is perishable, we can eat the fruit and make value added products like wine and fruit roll ups.

Cashew trees favor well drained soils and regular watering to get established. The flowers like it dry, just like mangoes. They benefit from leafy mulch. Keep turf grass well away from the root zone.

Today it is mainly grown commercially in Brazil and India. We do have some intrepid farmers in Hawaii who are growing trees and even selling products. I salute their courage. Farming and marketing etc., is not easy!

Recently my friend Kaui Lucas, who is a Trained Permaculturist, was talking to me about her Cashew keiki trees. She showed me these cute and vigorous keiki, that she is growing on her sunny lanai, protected with chicken wire.

Lucas got an email from the Department of Agriculture about a seed giveaway from Hinshaw Farms. She said “Frank Hinshaw is the cashew guy. He invited me to go visit, we could make a holoholo day out of that ! Super sweet guy and he was so helpful. The farm is at “Poamoho”.

A few years ago, My Friend Elizabeth Reigels and I went on a kalo and farm kokua, Gourmet Foodie and Educational event and on the Reppun farm. We visited a gorgeous tree that was loaded with ripe fruit. The fruit are very pretty and interesting to see.

This tree was so attractive and productive that it got me thinking cashew might be a viable crop for backyard growers and even for diverse mixed Fruit tree farms.

This would maybe be a good crop to grow more of in Hawaii. Especially if we grew it like old-time Hawaii farmers did, and like Permaculture and Regenerative Agroforestry plant scientists do now.

That is, grow a diversity of tree species, not a single Monoculture or plantation style. Layers of tall and short trees, shrubs, and groundcovers all grown together. Leave the leaves and let them naturally decompose and enliven the soil.

This diversity keeps the plants and soil health and helps capture rainwater and let it percolate down to our aquifer. It’s also more enjoyable to work in the Diverse cool shady spaces, cultivate and harvest than in a Monoculture, plantation, chemical using style of tree farming.

Besides eating cashews raw, roasted or salted, have you ever had cashew cheese? It is a bit labor and time intensive to make but it is so creamy and delicious. And it has less of some of the less healthy parts of yummy cheese: no cholesterol (since it is from a plant) and only healthy nut fats.

There is a farm in Moloa`a on Kauai with more than 200 Cashew trees. Linda and Scott Neuman started in 2002, are learning about which varieties grow best and how to harvest, dry and roast. Check them out online and buy some of their locally grown products. The Farm is called Neu Mana Hui farm.

They have an abundance of other crops too, including figs. Interestingly they used a ‘chicken tractor’, a mobile coop that lets the chicken’s control, and eat weedy grass and fertilize trees and crops too. Akamai, no?!

The oil around the nut is toxic and needs to be handled with care.

As Neumann says: “Our farm has 2 employees: my husband and myself. We do all the planting maintenance and production of our product. I have spent a lot of time trying to educate on the “toxic” product….

People get confused. Old school way is to throw the nuts into a fire and then crack to get inside. That smoke is toxic.

The cashew is fruit where the seed grows outside the fruit. The nut is the seed. The seed itself is covered by testa a covering like you see on a peanut. That protects it from CSL fluid which is in between the exterior shell and the testa. (cashew seed liquid)

That substance is used for many products in paint, brake fluid and other products. Some methods of processing capture the CSL we do not. The CSL will peel the skin on your hands.

We use gloves when handling the shells. A lot of people ask about growing cashew, cashew grow well in most areas of Hawaii, but the equipment is costly and difficult to obtain.”

The CSL fluid, or cashew seed liquid, and it has insecticidal properties (Makes sense no, since it would protect the seed from insects and grazing munching herbivores).

Traditionally the nuts would be thrown on a fire and smoked open. This smoke extremely toxic.

There is now an expensive machine to open the nuts safely. The Neumann’s do this and don’t bother with the seed oil

BUT what a diverse and useful crop for Hawaii’s future as we wean ourselves off toxic tourism. 30,000 visitors a day is way too many. Let us grow some nuts instead, and support local farmers, chefs, and True value-added businesses.

Keiki Cashew trees grown by Kaui Lucas. Wire protects them from pests. And they enjoy an ocean view.

Cashew nuts photo mahalo to Linda Neumann

Pretty fruit on Cashew trees Mahalo Linda Neumann

Zephyranthes or Rain Lilies

Pink Zephyr lilies in gravel mow curb strip in Manoa

By Heidi Bornhorst

Recent heavy rains have brought on the gorgeous blooming of Rain Lilies.  This is an old-fashioned Hawaii garden plant that many of us cherish.

I first learned about them from my Mentor and Hanai Tutu, May Moir.  She always encouraged the golden flowered form in her rock garden, and in an old concrete driveway that served as a rustic garden path. She taught me how to collect and grow more from seeds.

Their Latin name is Zephyranthes and we have several color forms that grow well here in Hawaii.

Moir had the yellow and the white flowered ones in her garden. I have the yellow one in my garden and along my mow curb. When they bloom, I think of May Moir and all that she shared with me.  What a Friendship garden gift!

We were visiting my Aunty Hilda Kaneshiro in Manoa and I noticed some nice sidewalk mow curbs that had the pink flowered one.  Later I stopped to get some pictures of them.

I’ve also been noticing the yellow ones in sidewalk strips along Palolo Avenue and today I stopped to try and get some good pictures of those.

We all want to encourage people not to cover our island with concrete, right?

Concrete and other impermeable surfaces restrict rainwater from trickling down and recharging our aquifers.  Excess hard surfaces like roads and walkways, and cement driveways and even the mow curbs, leads to flooding down slope; freshwater runoff into our oceans and prevents the groundwater recharge that is vital to all our future.

We call these impermeable surfaces  and they are NOT good !  Our aina needs to drain and keep fresh water on land and going down into our AQUIFER.  This is for us and for future generations

On average it takes 25 years for rainwater to land, trickle down through the lava, and past the lava dikes, and down, down to our underground fresh water.

If it all runs off down slope it can cause flooding, and that fresh water is not good for the Ocean and our coral reefs.

Flooding water is not that fresh, its full of junk.  Oil gas yard chemicals and more.  We really don’t want that in our Moana, our lovely ocean….

The mow curb is public property and homeowners are supposed to maintain a grassy strip that will drain.  Some people get tired of maintaining the grass and concrete over this strip.

This is illegal.  They city will come and rip out the concrete and restore drainage.  And charge the expense back to the owner. So please, keep it draining, gangy !

And it is not neighborly, or pono for our aina.  Please everyone, let’s kokua and do the right thing. Water is vital for all of us.

Having a gravel strip with Zephyranthes lilies is a creative landscape solution that is also pretty.  It saves the time and energy, gas oil and noise of maintaining, mowing and edging a grass strip.

You can choose pink white or yellow flowers.  Zephyranthes are a lily and you can grow more from the bulbs.  Ask for this nice Xeriscape garden plant at your favorite nursery or garden shop.

If you don’t like the gravel look, you can grow them at the edge of your lawn.  This is very pretty with the bright flowers Blooming cheerfully amidst the green grass

Or you can grow them in large pot with well-drained soil.

Golden form of Zephyranthes lilies

HOW TO GROW Zephyr lilies :

After a good rain and mass blooming cycle, some of the flowers develop seed pods.  After the three valved seed pods ripen for a bit, they split open, revealing stacks of flat black seeds in each seed pod.  You can grow more plants from these seeds.

Or you can dig out the bulbs and grow more that way.

You can also ask for them at your favorite garden shop, such as Ko`olau Farmers.  

Call a landscape nursery like the Nii nurseries in Hawaii Kai, or Kobas or Sharon’s Plants in Waimanalo.

Zephyranthes are in the lily family Amaryllidaceae.  The Scientific name has Greek origins:  “Zephyrus” is the God of the West wind, “Anthos” means flower.

They are native to the Americas, and there are at least 70 species.  They do hybridize and breeders opt for different colors and enhanced drought tolerance.

Other common names are Magic lily, Fairy lily, Atamasco, and Zephyr lily.

A funny note, to me is that the strange WEST winds we’ve been having lately, (a very odd wind direction for Hawai`i) coupled with rain, did that all trigger the Zephyr lilies to bloom ?  (Note the Latin name !)

Heidi Leianuenue Bornhorst is a landscaping consultant, gardener trainer, and specialty VIP garden guide. She has been a professional horticulturist for more than 33 years. She is also a Certified Arborist. You can contact her via email at heidibornhorst@gmail.com or at 739-5594.