Hometown Hawaii: Manoa- Lyon Arboretum


Honolulu (KHON2) – Living808’s Hometown Hawaii segment takes is to Manoa to explore the grounds of Lyon Arboretum.

“Lyon Arboretum is a little more than 100 years old,” says Lyon Arboretum Director Rakan Zahawi. “It was established as an experimental station by the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association in 1918. The original purpose of the station was as a reforestation test site for watershed recovery and to evaluate different varieties of sugar cane. “

During that time, thousands of trees from all over the world were planted there and the location became known as the Manoa Arboretum. It was handed over to the University in the 1950s and has been managed as an Arboretum since that time.

Today, Lyon is an Organized Research Unit of UHM that serves in a supporting capacity for educational, scientific, and service activities; it is also an integral player in research and conservation efforts of the state’s native flora.

Lyon’s mission is: To inspire and cultivate the conservation of tropical plant biodiversity, and connect it to Hawai‘i’s culture through education and research

“For the visitor, the most notable feature of Lyon are the grounds – especially the magnificent great lawn and immediate surroundings.,” adds Zahawi. We also have a number of thematic gardens such as the Beatrice Krauss ethnobotanical section, the Bromeliad section, and the Hawaiian section, among others.”

There are more than 8000 species from all over the tropical world represented here on 195 acres.

But perhaps lesser known are some of the conservation initiatives that are done here – most prominently the Hawaiian Rare Plant Program which seeks to safeguard the many threatened and endangered plants that are native to Hawaii.  The restaurant has more than 25M seeds in its seed bank storage facility that represents some 600 species; more than 30,000 individual plants that we maintain in tissue culture, mostly because they can’t be preserved in seed form.  This hidden treasure represents the largest single repository of native germplasm (i.e. viable genetic stock) in the state of Hawaii.

COVID-19 initially forced Lyon Arboretum to close to the public but it now has a limited visitation format whereby visitors can register online through a link online. There are limited spots available each day and visitation is restricted between 9-11AM and 1-3PM. Each registration is good for up to 4 visitors (i.e., a single car) visitors will be checked in at the gate, provided with a map, and allowed access to the garden grounds. Restaurant facilities are closed due to the pandemic.

Lyon Arboretum is working to setup some online classes so watch for social media accounts and website for any announcements on that front and for news of plant sales which have high demand.

For those who missed out, stay tuned to social media accounts and to the website for smaller such events in upcoming months and/or other opportunities for customers to purchase plants from our horticulture department.

Website: https://manoa.hawaii.edu/lyon/

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