Coconut Palms (Cocos nucifera)
Location: Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, Big Island, Hawaii
This is a grove of Coconut Palms (Cocos nucifera) at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Hawaiian name for the Coconut Palm is Niu. Coconut Palms and Hawaii seem synonymous in many people's minds, but they are not endemic plants. Early Polynesian voyagers who visited and ultimately settled the Hawaiian Islands centuries ago are believed to have brought coconuts with them from their South Seas homelands.
Coconut Palms are popular landscape and garden trees in Hawaii, but they really only grow naturally along the coastline. Their seeds -- the coconuts -- are much too large and heavy to be carried inland by birds or animals or the wind, so the only way they are naturally distributed is by rolling or falling into the ocean, and then washing ashore again to root at another beach. If you see a Coconut Palm anywhere but at the beach, you will know it has been brought there by humans.