Edible plant hike served with aloha – Oahu, Hawaii

Windward sideI begrudgingly flew for a month long visit this summer to see my family who lives on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. I know, I know such a terrible way to spend the summer 😉

My friend “Stuckey” is getting his masters degree in oriental medicine and acupuncture here. To my delight during a couple of hikes he told me what was edible and we nibbled on plants growing wild on the trail and washed our hair with wild awauphi in a waterfall


We shook trees and slapped at mosquitos while trying to catch the mountain apples, somewhat of a mixture between an apple and a pear; chewed the ends of ginger blossoms,  spicy and sweet like honeysuckle; ate little purple flowers which Matt described as, ” […] Hawaiian name for the purple flower is owiwi, in latin it’s known as a Stachytarpheta species, and commonly it’s a kind of vervain.” It tasted reminiscent of mushrooms,  and we also had a bite of some bitter lemony wild sorrel.

Later he fed me freshly picked fruit like the soursop which was, surprise, sweet and sour like a sour punch straw. Stuckey sprinkled watermelon with cayenne as he explained the hot and cool elements of oriental medicine: the cooling watermelon served with the hot cayenne at the same time sort of cancels each other out so we therefore could eat more and MORE and MORE! I tried gotu kola which tasted like celery, and he sent me home with  guavas and a chayote squash. I even tasted a two week old batch of fermenting poi, super sour and good with honey. What I loved the most is how he said the fruit is shared within the communities because once a tree begins to drop it’s wondrous bounty, there’s so much that you must give it away! And so the cycle commences as the fresh fruit flows throughout the ‘Ohana, (which means family in Hawaiian).

Until next time,

The Gluten Free Traveler

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