The Lyon Arboretum and Botanical Garden is the only University botanical garden located in a tropical rainforest in the United States. It is also the only easily accessible tropical rainforest on the island of O'ahu. It currently consists of almost 200 acres at the top of the Manoa watershed with a set of small cottages and greenhouses used for research and community education about plants and the natural environments of Hawai'i. As a branch of the University of Hawai'i, it serves as a center for educational activities on plants, arts, culture, geography, and a range of other sciences.
Currently, scholars from Anthropology, Biology, Botany, Culinary Arts, Engineering, Geography, Hawaiian Studies, Horticulture, and Zoology use the Arboretum in parts of their research or teaching. Approximately 34,000 visitors each year participate in classes, research projects, other community activities, or simply wandered the grounds enjoying the beautiful plant displays.
Several community organizations use the Arboretum as their base of operations, including Hui Hana, Garden Club of Honolulu, and the Friends of Lyon Arboretum. Through these organizations and others that periodically use the facilities, the University is able to regularly interact with a broad cross-section of the local community.
The Harold L. Lyon Arboretum coordinates, facilitates, and executes research, instruction, and service activities that utilize its collections and resources. Its major emphases are tropical plants, native Hawaiian plants, conservation biology, and Hawaiian ethnobotany.
The Arboretum is responsible for:
Developing a major resource center for tropical plants with Hawaii/Pacific Basin/Asian focus, by enhancing its living plant collection, and establishing an appropriate reference library and herbarium. Making its collections and information available to a broad clientele including students, researchers, industry, and the general public, by performing and disseminating the results of research, by appropriate outreach and educational activities, and through plant and seed exchange programs.
Serving as an outdoor laboratory for school and university students and classes.
Importing, identifying, improving through breeding, and introduction to the public, plants useful for horticulture, research, education, or industry.
Preserving and propagating germplasm of endangered plant species, especially those native to Hawaii. Special attention is given to the use of micropropagation and tissue culture technology in conservation of Hawaiian plants.
Developing a research and training program in restoration of Hawaiian ecosystems. Serving as a University field station for terrestrial biology and stream biology.