History of botanical gardens now available via audio tour

Visitors can explore the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens in Kahului by taking a new digital audio tour.

It provides the garden’s history and facts about its endemic and endangered plants.

The 10 audio wands were made possible by a $5,000 grant from the Leiter Family Foundation, which has been a frequent supporter of the garden’s education programs over the years.

The wands cost $5 each to rent. Income will help generate funds for the nonprofit.

Garden volunteer and KPOA radio personality Alaka’i Paleka narrates the tour.

Among the plants profiled are the creeping naupaka, or Scaevola coriacea, an endemic and endangered Hawaiian coastal plant. It represents one of the garden’s purposes, which is to preserve Maui Nui’s unique Hawaiian plants as well as those on the brink of extinction, an announcement said.

The plant may have been the source of inspiration for the garden’s founder, Rene Sylva, who chose the creeping naupaka to feature in the Maui Nui Botanical Garden’s logo.

Another plant profiled is the endemic ‘akia, or Wikstroemia uva-ursi, which was used by Hawaiian fishermen to stupefy fish. Parts of the plant would be ground up and placed in small tide pools. The plant’s toxins temporarily stunned small fish and caused them to float to the surface. This made it easy for fishermen to selectively gather fish. After a few minutes, the toxins wore off and the fish were revived.

Located along Kanaloa Avenue, the gardens are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. In addition to the audio tours, docent-guided tours are available.

For more information, call 249-2798 or send email to info@mnbg.org or see www.mnbg.org.