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.

Helpful Tips for Beautiful Landscapes

In my experience, people visiting Hawaii are truly interested in our unique plants and wonderful Hawaii gardens. Visitors vote and share with their cameras, with the questions they ask and the notes they take. Did you know that gardens and trees do not depreciate? They just keep on growing. The same cannot be said for buildings, sewers, sidewalks, pools and all the other accoutrements that make up Hawaii’s hotels.

At the Hale Koa Hotel, I researched and planted many new things in its 72 acres of gardens for the enjoyment and benefit of visitors, especially those who returned every year (or twice a year). Gardeners can be valuable customer service representatives and serve as front-line ambassadors. A nice gardener who can answer guests’ questions is more likely to bring new business and happier repeat customers.

Some people may or may not believe we have seasons in Hawaii, but professional Hawaii landscapers know we do.

For me, learning how to properly care for all the amazing plants here in Hawaii is a continual process, so I thought I would share with you some helpful landscape tips.

Tips and suggestions for a beautiful and professional Hawaii landscape

1. Create a highly visual and unique visitor experience by using native Hawaiian plants and well-adapted beautiful exotics in hotel gardens, interiorscapes, and landscapes.
2. Plant plants where they belong (salty soil, dry or wet area, shady or sunny).
3. Plant in layers — low, medium, high.
4. Plant shrubs + ground-covers around trees like a “lei,” to protect the trunk and highlight the tree.
5. Group plants that require the same conditions.
6. Understand how big a plant will become and how quickly it will grow.
7. Create and retain shade trees and shady walkways.
8. Understand how hard or easy a plant is to prune.
9. Use ground-covers as much as possible. They save on water, weeding, mowing and edging.
10. Hire a professional from the start and do the job right the first time.

Caring for landscapes using good Hawaii based horticultural and Arboriculture science principles and akamai maintenance practices will save money and beautify Hawaii. That is a great thing for all of us and our visitors

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.

`Ulu aka Breadfruit, Healthy Food Production for Hawaii

Dear Governor Ige, Famers, and back yard gardeners, do you want to increase local Healthy food production?  Eat more nutritious locally grown safe food?  Breadfruit is one of the best solutions for sustainable Food security, better health, and natural beauty.

Breadfruit aka`Ulu is a beautiful tree with great Cultural significance here in Hawaii, and across the Pacific.  Hawaiians and many other local cultures have a long tradition (including varied recipes and preservation techniques) with breadfruit.

`Ulu has many

healthy body benefits, it is rich in fiber, calcium, potassium, B vitamins, and pro-vitamin A carotenoids. It is a “resistant starch”, it does not spike your blood sugar like white rice or white potatoes. If more people ate breadfruit we would cut down on diabetes and other health issues related to refined starch and high sugar diet.

When people tell me they don’t like the taste, I figure they have not had it properly cooked, or it was picked at the wrong time – too green or too ripe.  Yes, the over ripe smashed on the ground ones from an over tall non-pruned tree, are not too ono!

As a Certified Arborist, I recommend keeping backyard trees at a medium height for safe and easy harvesting via careful pruning starting after the first harvest (about three to five years in the ground).

If you have a farm, and a tree climber or cherry picker you can let the tree grow larger, but keep in mind, well-managed trees are far more productive.

Ulu or Breadfruit Tree

Ulu is a beautiful and simple tree to grow, harvest and care for. It’s easier to grow, harvest and cook than kalo (taro). There is no need to dig up and replant like root and tuber crops. `Ulu are highly regarded as pest and disease resistant, especially when grown in mixed plantings with other crops and useful plants.

For a number of years I have worked with and learned from Dr. Diane Ragone of the Breadfruit Institute (BFI) of the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG).  We have given away over 12,000 keiki trees here in Hawaii and sponsored numerous breadfruit cooking contests. Our local participating chefs and gourmets are so talented and creative.

hb-ulu-hei-palolo

Chef Sam Choy is one of our amazing and totally giving back to the community Chefs.  For such a famous chef he is so humble, hard-working and just plain fun to partner with. We did the Wai’anae Eat Local Food Challenge, cook off and Breadfruit tree give away with him, Ragone, the Ho’oulu ka ‘Ulu project, and other community partners.

I have participated in numerous Arbor Day breadfruit tree giveaways over the years, these can be  like a feeding frenzy, everybody wants a free tree. Unfortunately not everyone who took a tree actually planted it.

Because our precious `ulu trees are propagated by tissue culture, we decided to make the process of getting one similar to adoption, hoping to attract people committed to and able to grow the trees. We asked people to promise to plant them in the ground within a few months, this gives the family time to make a decision about where in plant and to properly prepare the planting puka (clear away grass and weeds and use compost or stone mulching to make a clear area for the baby tree to thrive).

We utilize social media by sharing pictures and posts to reflect how well the keiki ulu trees are growing and producing healthy ono food.

Mahalo for all those who adopted a tree, keep sharing your feedback and great posts!

Helpful Growing Tips

How to plant:

  • Find a sunny spot away from wires
  • Clear away grass and weeds
  • Use hot mulch to help kill off the grass and weeds
  • Plant the keiki tree
  • Make a ring of mulch
  •  Water daily to establish
  • Replenish the mulch every few month

How to cook:

  • Harvest at mature firm green stage
  • Gently scrub and clean the skin (no need to peel)
  • Oil a big sharp knife
  • Slice ‘ulu into quarters
  • Steam for 20 minutes (or until fork tender)
  • Cool and freeze for future use

Or you can cook to your own liking, I make a simple curry with sautéed onions, garlic and Olena (turmeric).

Please check out the Breadfruit institute page on-line to learn even more about planting, harvesting cooking and the various varieties of ulu that we can grow here in Hawaii.

If you received a tree, please participate in our survey to let us know how your tree is doing.

You can also visit NTBG, they have gardens on Kauai, and Kahanu Garden in Hana that have amazing breadfruit collections for visiting and for inspiration. You can also join and support the NTBG in its important work on our “living library” of valuable trees and plants.

Learn more about when fruit is ready to harvest and how to handle in the Breadfruit Production Guide by Elevitch, Ragone, and Cole. 2014.  Available free   Download: http://ntbg.org/breadfruit/resources/cms_uploads/Breadfruit_Production_Guide_web_edition_2014.pdf or http://hawaiihomegrown.net/breadfruit-publications

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.

Hawaii Succulents

Succulents are perfect for your Hawaii garden.

Succulent plants can be fun and easy to grow and care for.  They can even help protect your home and garden from wildfire.  They are less thirsty plants, perfect to conserve on water in our gardens and grow a Hawaii style xeriscape.  Some are perfectly adapted for our humid Hawaiian climate.

Others are not so good in Hawaii.  They may prefer a Mediterranean climate like that of California.  These may grow OK at first here in Hawaii, and then they “melt”.  They just wither and fade away and …. It’s NOT your fault!  Ice plant is an example of one of these plants. Native to South Africa, it will grow a year or two in Hawaii, seem to be doing well and then fades away.  We had a nice planting of it at the Halawa Xeriscape Garden on a slope, but its pau now.

Aloe and Jade plants are some of our best gel filled plants for Hawaii gardens.  Not only are they tough and easy, but they also will reward you with a flower now and then.  (Many of our Aloe species bloom in our Hawaiian winter, sending up a pretty lily-like orange or red flower spike).

We also have many epic native Hawaiian succulent plants.  Hinahina the Lei Flower of Kaho’olawe is one of the most beautiful.  It’s tough in the wild, in harsh HOT, ehukai air filled areas.

Our native Hawaiian `ihi or Portulaca species are succulent and tough, with very pretty flowers. Portulaca molokiniensis is one of the most striking, with clusters of golden yellow flowers and a squat succulent growth habit.

`Ala`ala wai nui our Hawaiian Peperomias are also a cute succulent plant with many native species from various dryland and wetland habitats.  In wet places, they can grow happily on big pohaku or boulders, or epiphytically up in trees. These native habitats have perfect drainage.  Something we need to try and horticulturally replicate when we grow them in our gardens.

If you live in a wildfire prone area, you might consider a low scape including succulents. You can find many that are native to and grow well in Hawaii.

In a classic succulent vs fire story from California, a huge wildfire was sweeping through a San Diego, California neighborhood, many homes and gardens were destroyed.  Yet one (artist) lady had grown a low maintenance garden full of succulents including Aloe. It was a giant Aloe plant that is credited with helping save her house.  Though it burnt and appeared dead, its heart was full of moisture and the water stored in its tissues slowed the fire long enough to save the home.  The aloe also survived and with time revived after the fire.

Coastal and dry forest plants have adaptations to survive and thrive in hot dry salty windy areas.  Portulacca molokinienis or Molokini `ihi is one of the cutest, with a fat stalk, rosettes of succulent leaves and clusters of golden yellow flowers.

We have other native Portulaccas, which we call `ihi.  They can have white, pink or yellow flowers.  Most are easy to grow from cuttings.  They can also be grown from seeds.

Hinahina, the lei flower of Kahoolawe has the most gorgeous silvery rosettes of leaves and curled flower spikes of tiny white fragrant flowers.  Super gorgeous in the garden and very xeric once established.

The rare Alula, Brighamia citrina, native to the pali, steep cliff areas and today found only along Kalalau on Kauai, is being saved by gardeners who love its fat stalk, clusters of leaves and long tubular fragrant blossoms.

All of these native Hawaiian succulents need slug and snail protection.  Surround them with coarse black or red cinder, egg shells or a ring of used coffee grounds.  Copper strips and food grade diatomaceous earth also help to repel slugs and snails.

Gardener vigilance is good too.  Check on them at night or after heavy rains and manually remove slugs using a plastic bag to grab and then dispose of them.  Or do like my kolohe neighbor does, poke ‘em jubilantly with his old fishing spear and then dunk them in a bucket of soapy water, then bag them into the trash bin.

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