Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden

The Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden is on the Kona side of the Island of Hawai‘i, 22 miles south of Keahole Airport. The Garden is in Captain Cook, 12 miles south of Kailua-Kona on Highway 11, about 200 yards south of mile marker 110.  The driveway is on the mauka (uphill) side of the highway, across from the Manago Hotel. Click here for maps and directions.

The focus of this 15-acre botanical garden is Hawaiian ethnobotany: the study of the Hawaiian people and their plants. The garden is named for kama‘āina botanist Amy Greenwell.

At the Garden, you will see over 200 species of plants that grew in the traditional farms and native forests of Kona before Captain Cook arrived in the late 18th century. There are endemic, indigenous, and Polynesian introduced plants. These include the most important plants in Hawaiian culture, such as taro and kukui, and scores of rare and endangered native species such as the beautiful koki‘o.

The Garden landscape reflects the biogeographical zones of a typical Kona ahupua‘a. There are four zones: coastal, dry forest, agricultural, and upland forest. The plants on the upper five acres of the Garden grow within an archaeological site.

In this site you will walk among the stonework features of the Kona Field System , a 50 square mile network of farms and gardens that dominated the landscape in the time before foreign contact.

Depending on the time of year you may be able to visit the Garden’s native insect house, featuring Kamehameha butterflies.

Most self-guided visitors spend a half-hour to an hour at the Garden. Most of the Garden is easy walking on graveled paths. The trail to the upland forest area is steep. We recommend sunscreen, hats, and mosquito lotion. There are panels along the trails and plants throughout the garden have labels that explore their traditional uses.  

A guidebook for the Garden is available for loan or purchase at the visitor center. At the visitor center you can also shop for handcrafted items, snacks, books, and souvenirs.

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Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Mondays and Holidays.  Parking is free.   Facility rentals are available.

82-6160 Mamalahoa Hwy Captain Cook, HI 96704    Phone: 808.323.3318    Fax: 808.323.2394  agg@bishopmuseum.org

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ENDEMIC

Endemic plants and animals are natives that are found nowhere else in the world. 90% of native Hawaiian flowering plants are endemic. That is the highest rate of plant endemism in the world. Usually island ecosystems like Hawai‘i have high rates of endemism since the organisms their have evolved from a limited number of founder species to occupy many different niches.

INDIGENOUS

Indigenous plants and animals are natives that are found as natives in other parts of the world. Many indigenous Hawaiian plants are also found on other Pacific islands or on the Asian mainland.

POLYNESIAN INTRODUCED

Plants that were introduced by Polynesian settlers to the Hawaiian Islands are called Polynesian Introductions. These plants were at the heart of traditional Hawaiian culture, supplying food, medicine, light, clothing, and many necessities of daily life. The plants include kalo, sweet potato, and banana.

ETHNOBOTANY

Ethnobotany looks at the agricultural customs, plant lore, and plant uses of a culture. An ethnobotanist examines the role plants play within a society as food, medicine, fiber, and construction material, and their place in the religion and mythology of a people. Ethnobotany brings together botany--the study of plants--and ethnology, the study of human culture.