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Waikīkī once had a different profile and vegetation than we see today. The Waikīkī Aquarium’s gardens provide a glimpse of the diversity of this important native habitat, fascinating plants and their adaptations. The Aquarium has expanded its plantings and helped restore a bit of Waikiki’s natural lei of native coastal plants. More than twenty native plant species are currently established in the Aquarium’s gardens.
The only palms native to Hawai‘i come from a single genus, Pritchardia. Loulu is the Hawaiian name for all species of Pritchardia in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Hawaiian word loulu, means “umbrella,” because the leaves were formerly used as protection from rain or sun. The tail fin of the scrawled filefish resembles the shape of the palm leaf, and both of the species share the Hawaiian name, loulu.
Pritchardia remota is an endangered loulu palm found endemic to Nihoa Island where there is a growing population of about 700 individual trees. To protect this endangered palm, Pritchardia remota has been transplanted to another remote island, Laysan.
The garden at the Aquarium has loulu hiwa, Pritchardia martii, which is endemic to the Koolau and Waianae mountains on the island of O‘ahu. Among palm enthusiast this small, slow-growing palm, is believed to be one of the most beautiful palms.