Mike DeMotta

Mike DeMotta

Centuries ago, when Polynesians sailed the Pacific in search of new lands — and eventually found Hawai‘i — they brought with them many plants to ensure their survival during the long ocean journey and also to cultivate the potential lands they were hoping to find. Those plants are known in Hawai‘i as canoe plants.

“Long Ago and Far Away: the Extraordinary Journey of Hawai‘i’s Canoe Plants” is a free public lecture by Mike DeMotta, curator of living collections at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at the Kaua‘i Community College in Puhi.

Mike will take his audience on a journey covering thousands of miles and as many years, detailing how some two dozen plant species, many with origins in Southeast Asia, were cultivated and carried by humans as they migrated to Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

Using Hawaiian language and legends, Mike will convey the importance of the centuries-old relationships the first Hawaiian people forged with canoe plants such as ‘uala (sweet potato), kalo (taro), and kō (sugar cane). Drawing on his own cultural knowledge and professional horticultural experience, DeMotta will discuss how NTBG uses canoe plants for education and outreach.

The talk is part of the “What in the World” lecture series, one of the many collaborations between the nonprofit NTBG and KCC. NTBG is a nonprofit institution headquartered in Kalāheo. KCC, which is part of the University of Hawai‘i system, operates a large campus in Līhu‘e.

Visit ntbg.org and kauai.hawaii.edu for more information.

For questions about accessibility or to request accommodations, contact Margaret Clark at (808) 332-7324 ext. 225 at least 10 days in advance.