Some people put a feather in their cap, but me a Java Plum leaf. Why? Because these invasive habitat-modifying trees are here, especially in our riparian environments. I pick and eat as many of the fruits as I possibly can, preventing further seed dispersal, and use the leaves to flavor my water and control blood sugar levels. Find Java Plum in the Savage Kitchen App.
Adorned in 3 of our most ecologically devastating invasive edible plant species – Kāhili Ginger twisted leaf lei, Haole Koa green seed choker, and Strawberry Guava leaf buttons. I felt like Queen of the Invasives wearing these. We can apply our creativity when dealing with the challenges that invasive species make us face.
Lei by Hawaii Flora + Fauna
Photography be Cadencia
There are 19 endemic Bidens species found in Hawai’i and nowhere else on the planet. This makes awareness around not spreading Spanish Needles (Bidens pilosa) seeds important, as Bidens species are thought to cross. Quickly adopted into la’au lapa’au, kinehī is used in the treatment of over 40 diseases. A wonderful demonstration of making medicine with an invasive species, eating it, and also holding awareness and the practice of pulling their hitchhiker seeds off clothing, pet hair, etc to save the biodiversity of our endemic Bidens.
You can find the recipe for this “Emerald Ecstasy” cocktail, which includes Spanish Needles juice, in the Savage Kitchen app!
Every single kāhili ginger flower (Hedychium gardnerianum) harvested means these invasives won’t form seeds and spread as rapidly! Culling just the flower heads, and fully removing them from the forest, stops further seed dispersal.
Besides eating the flowers, I also distill them for aromatherapy. To this day, my favorite distillation I’ve ever done was the combination of kāhili rhizome/root and ylang ylang flowers. But the flower hydrosol and essential oil is divine as well. I’ve had my hydrosol tested in a lab in France and it is high in linalool = calming and anti-anxiety.
It’s possible to guide the plants, let them know that:
“You are so beautiful and I’m grateful for your gifts, and there are native brothers and sisters of this land who need you to back off so they can also flourish and I think you would be happier living in a more diverse community and your work isn’t needed like it was before.”
Hogwash hippy talk you say? Check out the most current scientific findings into plants and you will see a rich language of vibrational communication, pheromone signaling, a mycorrhizal network, and ways we don’t even know about yet. Blasting plants with herbicide alone is antiquated… we are more creative than that, we know better than to believe we will continue to spray and spray and spray indefinitely.
Who needs some calming and anti-anxiety? Go cull the kāhili herd, being responsible not to spread them further – tips and guidance in the Savage Kitchen app. And get a double-bonus of taking action on something that’s good for you and good for the planet.
Feed your wild, wear your wild, love your Wild!