Landscapers in Hawaiʻi love using naupaka to embellish coastal areas, because it’s a beautiful shrub that thrives in salty, dry environments. You will almost certainly see it planted near hotels and boardwalks by the beach. There are 10 species of naupaka native to the Hawaiian islands, and the 9 others that are endemic. Different species can be found habitating different environments. Some only grow on the coastlines, while others are only found in the mountains.
One thing you may notice about naupaka, is that the flowers only grow in half circles. This natural phenomenon is the root of a Hawaiian mo’olelo (legend) about unrequited love between a princess and a fisherman.
While beach naupaka is great for landscaping and erosion control along the coastline, they have few uses otherwise. The berries are edible in a pinch, but are very bitter and slimy. Although it is a well loved species throughout the Pacific, it has become invasive along Atlantic shorelines and can outcompete native species in these environments.
Naupaka berries are buoyant and can float in seawater for over a year before reaching land and germinating.
Common name: Beach naupaka
Scientific name: Scaevola taccada
Where to Find: Sandy dry coastlines