The National Tropical Botanical Garden (originally the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden) is the only tropical botanical garden with a charter from the United States Congress as a not-for-profit institution, dedicated to tropical plant research, conservation and education.
National Tropical Botanical Garden and its gardens are located in the only tropical climate zones in the United States. While other major gardens can grow tropical plants in greenhouses “under glass,” NTBG’s nearly 2,000 acres of gardens and preserves afford a natural open-air environment in which these species flourish.
Four of NTBG’s gardens are in the Hawaiian Islands; the fifth is on the US mainland in Florida. The Hawai‘i gardens include, McBryde and Allerton Gardens in Lāwa‘i, South Shore of Kaua‘i; Limahuli Garden and Preserve on the North Shore of Kaua‘i and Kahanu Garden on the Hāna Coast of Maui. The Kampong is located on Biscayne Bay in Coconut Grove, Florida.
McBryde Garden has become a veritable botanical ark of tropical flora; it is situated in the upper valley of Lāwa‘i. In 1970, the original 171-acres in the upper Lāwa‘i Valley was purchased, forming the NTBG’s first garden.
Originally called Lāwa‘i Garden, in 2000 it was renamed the McBryde Garden (named after Duncan McBryde and his McBryde Sugar Co, prior owners of the site.)
It is home to the largest ex situ collection of native Hawaiian flora in existence, extensive plantings of palms, flowering trees, rubiaceae, heliconias, orchids and many other plants that have been wild-collected from the tropical regions of the world.
NTBG’s Conservation Program is based at this site and the Garden contains a state-of-the-art horticulture and micro-propagation facility.
The Allerton Garden was a summer home for Queen Emma, now known as the historic Allerton Estate located near Poʻipū just past Spouting Horn – it’s situated between the Pacific Ocean and the McBryde Garden in the Lāwa‘i Valley (Lāwa‘i Kai.)
A naturally stunning location, the Lāwaʻi Valley’s tropical splendor was nurtured by its famous owners. Queen Emma added her personal touch with the purple bougainvillea along the cliff walls. In 1937, the Allerton’s purchased the property and continued the vision of a stately garden paradise.
The NTBG is headquartered at Lāwaʻi Kai. NTBG’s gardens and preserves are safe havens for at-risk plant species that might otherwise disappear forever. There are two gardens at Lāwaʻi Kai, McBryde and Allerton Gardens. NTBG has the largest collection of endangered plant species in the world.
Research and education programs have been expanded over time; NTBG’s Breadfruit Institute was formed. In more recent years the institution has strengthened its commitment to native plant conservation and habitat restoration. While NTBG had long been conducting ethno-botanical research, new emphasis was placed on perpetuating traditional knowledge.
Limahuli Garden and Preserve is set in a verdant tropical valley on the north shore of the Hawaiian Island of Kaua‘i. The Garden is back-dropped by the majestic Makana Mountain and overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
The name “Limahuli,” which means “turning hands,” which describes the agricultural activities of early Hawaiians in the Valley. Lava-rock terraces for growing taro (lo‘i kalo) were built there 700-1,000 years ago.
The goal for Limahuli Garden and Preserve is the ecological and cultural restoration of Limahuli Valley, using the ahupua‘a system of resource management as a template for this work – a convergence of past and present, where native plants as well as ancient and contemporary Hawaiian culture are being actively preserved, nurtured and perpetuated.
Kahanu Garden is situated on the Hāna coast at Honomā‘ele. For many generations the ahupua‘a of Honomā‘ele was an important agricultural area, a thriving community that prospered under the guidance of their ali‘i (chiefs).
Oral legends and chants recall that by the latter part of the 16th century the renowned ali‘i Pi‘ilani united the entire island of Maui under one rule with Hāna Bay as one of the royal centers of the kingdom.
Kahanu Garden today honors the past – cultivating and preserving both Hawaiian native plants and special varieties or cultivars of the ethnobotanic plants of Hawai‘i and the greater Pacific.
The Kampong, in Florida, contains an array of tropical fruit cultivars and flowering trees. The garden is named for the Malay or Javanese word for a village or cluster of houses.