National Public Gardens Day: Chancellor Irwin plants rare palm at UH Hilo Botanical Gardens

The UH Hilo Botanical Gardens, founded by Professor Emeritus of Biology Don Hemmes, contain a large collection of cycads, hybrid bromeliads, and a large palm collection.


By Susan Enright.

Chancellor with shovel pours dirt into palm's planting hole.
Chancellor Bonnie Irwin plants a rare loulu palm at the UH Hilo Botanical Gardens, May 15, 2024. (Courtesy photo)

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo celebrated National Public Gardens Day with Chancellor Bonnie Irwin planting a rare Hawaiian loulu palm (Pritchardia schattaueri) at the UH Hilo Botanical Gardens. The gardens contain a large collection of cycads (over 120 species), hybrid bromeliads, and a large palm collection.

National Public Gardens Day is celebrated every second Friday of May and this year it was marked on May 10, a rainy day in Hilo, so the planting took place on Wednesday, May 15. The day was established in 2009 by the American Public Gardens Association to emphasize activities such as plant conservation, water conservation, green space preservation, and home gardening.

Founder of the UH Hilo Botanical Gardens, Professor Emeritus of Biology Don Hemmes, and his wife Helen were at the event, along with UH Hilo biologist Deb Beirne, members of the Hawaiʻi Island Palm Society, and volunteers who tend the gardens. In addition to the tree planting, the group toured the cycad, bromeliad, and palm collections.

The UH Hilo Botanical Gardens are open to the public and group tours can be arranged by contacting Prof. Hemmes.

Learn more about the different gardens on the campus of UH Hilo.


Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

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