Rio looks a lot like Honolulu on a bigger scale: turquoise ocean surging against long stretches of white sand beaches flanked by strings of high rise hotels and condos. Steep mountains shrouded in mist abut the city. There’s a lot of traffic, tourists from all over, and vendors hawking sarongs and fresh coconut water. Theft is a serious problem, albeit Rio’s muggers make those in Honolulu look like kindergartners. But it’s the trees that seem most familiar. Many species of Brazilian trees were introduced to Hawaii over the past 100+ years. They have taken root, so much so that we now perceive them as our own.
Ornamental and flowering species are the most obvious. Jacarandas line Kula Highway on Maui and Waimea on the Big Island. Their fragrant, purple blossoms announce spring’s arrival each year. Other ornamental trees, including the banyan and shower tree, adorn many beaches and lawns providing much needed shade and gathering spots. The quintessential Hawaiian flowering shrub, the bird of paradise, is native to Brazil.
Many food and fruit trees from Brazil feed locals in Hawaii. The apple banana is probably the most popular and ubiquitous. Other Brazilian fruit trees are common and well-loved, including mango, avocado, acerola cherry, jackfruit and jaboticaba. There are many others, included the dreaded invasive Christmas berry originially planted to stop erosion on sugar cane land. Loved or hated, many of Hawaii’s common trees and shrubs seen today originated in Brazil. Like almost everything and everyone residing in the islands, they made the long journey across the Pacific and now make Hawaii home.
A good link: