Island residents and visitors still have the opportunity to view rare prints of plants collected during James Cook’s first of three Pacific voyages. National Tropical Botanical Garden’s (NTBG) ‘Plants of the Society Islands’ art exhibition displays some of the rare and fascinating botanical prints that are housed in the Rare Book Room of the nonprofit’s Botanical Research Center. The exhibit is offered weekdays through May 22 and also on Saturday May 16. More information is available on the web at

The room that houses NTBG’s extraordinary collection of botanical prints, voyage logs, and rare books dating back as early as the 1500s, was recently dedicated as The Sam and Mary Cooke Rare Book Room. Samuel A. Cooke, long-time NTBG supporter and widely known as an advocate of conservation who helped found The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i, played a considerable role in NTBG’s acquisition of the majority of the collection in the 1990s.

The Botanical Research Center also houses NTBG’s collection of more than 70,000 dried plant specimens and its research library. The preservation of all of these collections requires a vigorous climate-controlled system and NTBG, with the help of WEfficiency, an online lending platform powered by the Blue Planet Foundation, launched its first crowdfunding campaign to upgrade equipment to improve efficiency. Funds, whether through a “loanation” or donation, will not only help NTBG improve temperature and humidity conditions to protect the collections, but will also save the nonprofit an estimated $60,000 annually by reducing energy use by nearly 140,000 kilowatt hours. From an environmental standpoint, the impact of this reduction in energy use would be 232 less barrels of oil burned and decreased carbon emissions of 131.6 tons. For more information on NTBG’s WEfficiency campaign, visit

National Tropical Botanical Garden has nearly 2,000 acres of gardens and preserves in Hawai‘i and Florida. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014, the institution’s mission is to enrich life through discovery, scientific research, conservation, and education by perpetuating the survival of plants, ecosystems, and cultural knowledge of tropical regions. NTBG is supported primarily through donations and grants.

This gardenia from Tahiti is one of the rare botanical prints on display at NTBG until May 22.

NTBG dedicated its rare book room during its annual board meeting. The room was named after conservation advocate Samuel Cooke and his wife. Pictured with Mr. Cooke is NTBG’s Director & CEO Chipper Wichman.

NTBG’s WEfficiency campaign will improve its Botanical Research Center’s climate-control equipment.