Okolehao Trail (Kauai-Part 2)

“De Plane, De Plane!”

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As Mr. Roarke from Fantasy Island would say in his suave Mexican accent, “I believe that is the mountain plateau the plane flies alongside to land in Fantasy Island.”

“Smiles everyone. Smiles!”

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You call that a smile Eric?

Okay so we’re gasping. It’s our first hike – on the morning of our first full day in Kauai – and we’re ascending the Okolehao trail. (Why hadn’t I whipped myself into better physical shape for this trip?)

Stephanie settles against a banyan tree

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We got there though. Here we are on a high plateau.

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My brain has implanted itself on my t-shirt.

Another view:

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You are looking at Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai. To get to the trailhead from Princeville you make an immediate left after crossing the Hanalei bridge. Then you drive about a mile and it’s right there. You know, in case you’re in the area of Princeville. Here is a nice link with more photos and information about the Okolehao trail.

David is leading the way down now

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The rest of us are attempting to follow

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On the way back we meet a fiddlehead.

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A furled frond of a young fawn, I mean fern.

We also come upon a very shy plant – a miniature dark seafoam green cousin of the fern maybe?

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Nestled amongst the grasses. It likes to disguise itself as other ferns and vice versa. We don’t really understand this plant; it becomes very closed up and withdrawn when you touch it. Here – in this video you see David touching the leaves:


Does the plant suffer from some sort of reactive detachment anxiety? Is it a carnivore? Maybe a form of Venus fly trap too gentle to capture anything? I Googled “plant in Kauai that folds up when you touch it” and it came right up. It’s called mimosa pudica. Scientists think the plant uses its ability to shrink as a defense from herbivores. Animals may be afraid of a fast moving plant and would rather eat a less active one. (For sure.) Another possible explanation is that the sudden movement dislodges harmful insects (and most certainly scares the crap out of them).

In Kauai the plant is known as the hila-hila plant. Other common names include tickle-me-plant, humble plant, touch-me-not, shameful plant, sensitive plant, ant plant… It is native to South America and Central America but has been introduced to many other regions and is regarded as an invasive species in Tanzania, South Asia and South East Asia and many Pacific Islands. In the USA, it grows in Florida, Hawaii, Virginia, Maryland, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the Virgin Islands.

In other words, you’re probably already familiar with it.

Mimosa pudica protects itself from humans eating it too. I’m not inclined to eat a fast moving salad. I’d rather eat a less active one. Especially after drinking one of Victor’s killer Margaritas.

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2 Responses to “Okolehao Trail (Kauai-Part 2)”

  1. Lisa Jones Says:

    Thank you for sharing these great photos and educational bits. It means a lot to me since I have limited mobility and may never visit Kauai.

    • Jody Caraher Says:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Lisa. Now in the future if your salad is moving around, closing up in front of your eyes, you might pause and consider that it is mimosa pudica rather than the only other possibility, that you’re hallucinating.

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