Beauty and the Hawaii Beach
Spanning across many of Hawai‘i’s glorious shorelines, you may spot Ipomoea pes-caprae, a trailing vine more commonly known as beach morning glory. Typically found in subtropical environments, the vine flourishes just above the high tide line on coastal beaches. In Hawai‘i, the vine is known as pohuehue. This species of morning glory is extremely salt-tolerant and is most usually found on or near beaches throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Appreciated for its lovely violet flowers and its anti-soil and sand erosion capabilities, native Hawaiians also cultivated beach morning glory for its healing properties. The vine’s seeds, roots and leaves were used as poultices for skin ailments and broken bones though poisonous in large amounts. And according to legend, kahuna (priest) and frustrated surfers would hit the sea with this vine while chanting to make suitable waves for surfing. Today, Hawaiians still use the vines to drive fish into nets. The flowers themselves are short-lived— blooming in the coolness of sunrise, they close by mid-afternoon and drop off the vine the following day if not eaten by insects first. Wake up early to enjoy the fresh blooms on the beach before they begin to fade.