Limahuli garden

Limahuli garden on the North shore of Kauaithe Sunshine Coast.

Week in paradise was not a vacation

June 26, 2008

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Barry Shell spent a week in paradise last month exploring flora and fauna in Kauai, Hawaii.         

But the trip was no holiday for the Faculty of Applied Sciences research communication manager who was on an environmental journalism fellowship at the U.S. National Tropical Botanical Garden, a not-for-profit institution dedicated to discovering, saving and studying the world’s tropical plants.

“The only way I could get time to myself was to wake up at 5:00 a.m. and catch a couple of hours on the beach at sunrise,” says Shell, who was billeted with six American journalists in a house a few kilometers from the garden.

Some mornings, field trips to forests in the more remote parts of the island departed at 7:00 a.m., led by “extreme botanists” who discover rare and vanishing species on inaccessible cliff faces.

The journalists learned about everything from invasive species to plants going extinct due to climate change and everything imaginable about breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis).

When one participant twisted her ankle, a native scientist reduced the swelling using a medicinal poultice of chopped noni leaves (Morinda citrifolia), a plant almost always within arm’s reach in the tropical forest.

Shell and his fellow journalists left a literary legacy at the end of the project. Visit ntbgfellows.wordpress.com to read their stories and watch videos about the people and plants of Hawaii.
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