January 2018 Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Newsletter

Please follow the link to our January 2018 Garden Newsletter

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July 2017 Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Newsletter

July 2017 Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Newsletter

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Orchid of the week! Catasetum incurvum



One of the strangest of all orchids is turning heads at the Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden this week. These bizarrely beautiful, and deliciously fragrant, green blossoms emerged from the robust pseudobulbs this species produces in the perfect light within our Orchid Garden. These however, are the FEMALE flowers of this exotic South American species. Occurring in hot and steamy, but seasonally dry forests of lowland Ecuador and Peru, this species, like most all other member of the genus, make two completely different types of flowers on separate stems that carry male or female sexual parts! You can see what the male flowers are like by looking here:

One might ask, why do these orchids have flowers with separate sexes when most other flowers have both male and female parts? As well you might! Well it is a long and crazy story! Are you ready to get your minds blown? Catasetums are pollinated by Male Euglossine bees also known as Orchid Bees. They are beautiful bees with iridescent, often metallic colors of Blue and Green. Male Euglossines often toil from before dawn till after dusk collecting fragrances from flowers all around the forest. This is because female Euglossines are extremely picky about which males are worthy to mate with. Only the males that work the hardest and collect the most complex array of fragrances get any attention from the ladies! It is for the females, apparently, an indication of genetic fitness and apian virility! Like good pecs and firm buns for humans!

One of the best and most effective fragrances comes from the Catasetum flower and young male bees seeking to mate, literally scrape the blooms for the fragrant oils they secrete and dab it on themselves (like Axe Cologne!) in the hopes of impressing desireable females! But this task has its hazards! The male flowers have a tendril-like trigger switch in their center. While foraging for the irresistable perfume the bees touch the trigger and WHAM! a giant wad of a pollinarium shoots out of the flower at lightning speed, and wallops the hapless bee! After having been effectively mugged by a male flower, the bees are reluctant to visit another as you might imagine! So, the female flowers evolved to look completely different thus deceiving the poor male a second time. The traumatized males are attracted to the female flowers as they have more fragrances to collect and don’t look as dangerous!

Catasetums produce these different flowers based on how hot and sunny it is where they are growing. Plants in the sun will usually produce female flowers while those in the shade tend to make male flowers. In their natural habitat, most species undergo a 2 or 3 month dry season with virtually no rain during which time they lose all their leaves and flower spikes emerge, synchronously timed with the hatching of young orchid bees. Here at HTBG, the Catasetums get year-round moisture and can bloom at almost any time of year! You must come and see them for yourself! _ Tom Mirenda

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APRIL 2017 Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Newsletter

APRIL 2017 Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Newsletter

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January 2017 Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Newsletter

January 2017 Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Newsletter

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June 2015 Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Newsletter

June 2015 Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Newsletter

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June Member Events

Aloha to all Garden Members!

Thank you all for supporting HTBG with your membership! Coming this summer, the Garden is planning a couple of very special events exclusively for our Members.


Digital Photography Workshops

Professional photographers Ken and Mary Goodrich of Volcano have been members of HTBG for many years. Their business, Hawaii Photo Retreat, http://www.hawaiiphotoretreat.com offers photo tours and workshops to people who wish to improve their photographic skills.


Most often the perfect setting for this is in the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. Whether the camera is an iPhone or a DSLR, Ken and Mary offer tips on composition and exposure, as well as their insights on expressing one’s personal vision through the camera.


Now Garden Members can have a walk-through in a small group with Ken and Mary. They will help you make the most of your photos and offer suggestions. The special member cost for an approximately 3 hour garden photo tour with instruction and informational handouts is $99. We will start at 9am, rain or shine, with a brief introductory prep session.


The first workshop will be on Saturday June 6th and is devoted to getting the most out of your iPhone or Ipad.


The second workshop will be on Saturday June 27th which will be all about getting the most out of your DSLR camera.


Classes are limited to six people so be sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible. RSVP with David or Suzanne at 964-5233 or htbg@ilhawaii.net.

Exclusive Early Evening Horticultural Tour at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

The Staff and Board of Directors of Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden are very happy to invite you to attend a Members Only Event on Saturday, June 20, 2015 from 4:30PM to 6:30PM. Please join us for a free Guided tour of the Garden led by Jeff Boggeln, Garden Manager and Sean Callahan, Horticulturist. You’ll learn about the history of Onomea Valley and hear stories from the early days when Dan and Pauline Lutkenhouse created Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. You’ll also learn some of the history behind some of our plants and have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

We want to thank you for supporting the Garden with your Membership by sharing Jeff and Sean’s combined 35 years of Garden knowledge during this exclusive after-hours tour.


The tour will last approximately 1 hour, ending at Twin Rocks, then you will be able to explore the Garden on your own until 6PM. After the tour enjoy some pupus on the Gift Shop Lanai.

This Event is free for our Members, but to ensure the best experience for all, reservations are limited to 30 people.

Please RSVP by June 1, 2015 to David or Suzanne at 964-5233 or htbg@ilhawaii.net.


Not a member? Sign up here.

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Wheel of Fortune to highlight HTBG in their upcoming Hawaii Edition

Garden Co-Founder Mrs Lutkenhouse with Pat Sajak and Vanna White

Garden Co-Founder Mrs Lutkenhouse with Pat Sajak and Vanna White


If you watch “Wheel of Fortune” regularly, then you know that the highly popular game show often leaves its familiar studio surroundings for exciting destinations across the country.   You may also be aware that “Wheel of Fortune” is coming back for a third time to the Big Island of Hawaii.

Less known is the months of preparation it takes to make it all happen.  Months ahead of auditioning contestants, Wheel of Fortune takes the time and expense to scout locations suitable to highlight the destination they are visiting.  Hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White are then brought in to film promotional videos for the show and to give the TV audience a taste of what each location offers.

This year, the producers chose Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden as one place to showcase the lush natural beauty of Hawaii Island.  Kona based location scout Nancy Erger first reached out to HTBG in January, and made her first exploratory walk through soon after.

Several subsequent visits also included producers and coordinators, who chose the best spots to film and also worked out the logistics of moving around a crew of over 40 and all the equipment they would need to film in three different areas.  This was no easy task considering the terrain of our Garden Valley, and getting inside requires traveling down trails that descend about 90 ft. to the valley floor.

Because of this, tight shooting schedules and a large crew, HTBG was closed on Wednesday May 14th, to best accommodate the shoot.  Fortunately, it was perfect day for filming and the crew and the Garden staff worked seamlessly together to move equipment and people to their posts and the filming proceeded efficiently over the course of several hours.

pat and vanna in the orchid garden

pat and vanna filming in the orchid garden

Seeing their operation up close was really quite impressive too.  The whole team worked together effortlessly and although focused on their work, many took the time to stop and pay respect to Garden Co-Founder Pauline Lutkenhouse who had come to watch.  Executive Producer Harry Friedman spent a while speaking with us and Pat and Vanna also made time to chat and take pictures with us.  All of us at HTBG express our thanks to Mr. Friedman and the entire team for choosing the Garden to promote Hawaii Island and the show, and also for the professionalism and class they showed throughout the process.

“Wheel of Fortune” will host and record the shows in September at the Waikoloa Hilton Resort.
The Shows are scheduled to broadcast in November, the weeks of 11/3/14 and 11/10/14, and in February, the weeks of 2/9/15 and  2/16/15.  Scenes from the Garden will appear throughout these weeks with a special closing segment about HTBG tentatively scheduled on 2/9/15.

More about HTBG in Television and Film

Also in May 2014, we were fortunate to host Dr. Niobe Thompson, a Canadian documentary filmmaker, anthropologist, and environmentalist.
At the time, the Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia were in Hilo, one stop on their 47,000 nautical mile journey.

Niobe and his team came to film the canoes and the crew as part of what promises to be a fascinating PBS documentary “Human – The Miracle of a Species” which should air sometime in 2015.  The film will explore how, in a time of natural disaster not witnessed since the extinction of the dinosaurs, humans emerged to settle the planet.

Niobe and team came to the Garden and spent the better part of two days shooting tropical scenes to be included in the film.  We are glad that we could play a small part in this important study of our human origins.

In 2013 We were thrilled to host award-winning PBS documentary filmmaker David Grubin and his crew.  Working on a documentary about dying languages and efforts to

David Grubin and Bob Holman

David Grubin and Bob Holman

save them, they came to Hawaii to investigate the successful resurgence of the Hawaiian language and the impact it has had on the Hawaiian People.
They used their time in the Garden to film some establishing shots and scenic shots with the narrator to use with voice-overs.

We would like to thank Mr. Grubin for allowing the Garden to be a part of this important film and wish him much success with this propject.

We were also visited in summer 2013 by Mezamahi TV from Japan.  Mezamahi is Japanese for alarm clock and it is a morning tv show along the lines of “Good Morning America.”

mezamahi tv at htbg

Mezamahi TV filming at the Garden Gate

They came to Hawaii Island to film several three minute long segments about the island’s highlights.  We are grateful that they chose to film here and for the exposure the Garden will have on Japanese TV.

In October 2013, World Media came to the Garden and filmed a two minute spot for their Official Best of Hawaii 2013 TV production.  They chose Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden as the Best Botanical Garden in Hawaii!  The Official Best of Hawaii – 2013 aired on KGBM Hawaii and on KCBS or KCAL Los Angeles in December.



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August 2014 Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Newsletter

August 2014 Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Newsletter

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Staff Update

At the end of June, the staff of HTBG gathered together to bid a fond farewell to Mr. Michael DeMey, who after twenty years as our Orchid Specialist has decided to retire to spend more time with his beautiful wife Mary Anne.

Michael has not only been instrumental in the development and maintenance of our Orchid collection and display, but has personally trained each of our shuttle drivers to do our cruise ship excursions.  He has also had a hand in almost every project we have done over the years.  We will miss him greatly and wish him well in the next chapter of his life.

The good news is that we have already have our new Orchid Specialist!  For the past two months, Gardener Ryan Atiz has been training alongside Michael, learning everything he knows.    Congratulations to Ryan, we know that you will continue to keep our orchid display as beautiful as Michael did for the delight of all who visit.

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