Keiki participated in tree-climbing activities offered during Lyon Arboretum’s Centennial Hoʻolauleʻa.

2018 marked a busy and exciting centennial year for the University of Hawaiʻiat Mānoa’s Harold L. Lyon Arboretum. Faculty, staff, students, community supporters and visitors—old and new—gathered at various events throughout the year to celebrate the arboretum’s first century, highlighting its rich history and achievements.

“I’m so very proud of where we are today, 100 years later, at the Lyon Arboretum,” said Director Rakan Zahawi. “We started out as a test site established by the Hawaiʻi Sugar Planters Association to address erosion and runoff in the upper Mānoa watershed, and now serve as a support unit for educational, scientific, and service activities related to the University of Hawaiʻi. Lyon is also an integral player in the research and conservation efforts of the state’s native flora.”

Centennial year in review

three males with various plants and trees
Lyon Arboretum’s Hua Kalahiki, Tim Kroessig and Richard Sears at the Arbor Day tree giveaway.
three males holding certificates from the Honolulu City Council
UH Mānoa Vice Chancellor of Research Michael Bruno, State Representative Dale Kobayashi and Lyon Arboretum Director Rakan Zahawi holding the Honolulu City Council certificate acknowledging Lyon’s Centennial.
hula dancers
Hula dancers perform at Lyon Aboretum’s Centennial Hoʻolauleʻa.

January: The inauguration of the new state-of-the-art Hawaiian Rare Plant Program Micropropagation Laboratory kicked off the events. The 7-year effort resulted in a complete transformation of this critically important lab. The facility houses Hawaiʻi’s most endangered plants and the largest collection of Native Hawaiian plant species.

June: Hosted by the UH Foundation, more than 70 invited retired UH faculty and employees were given a tour to learn more about the new micropropagation lab.

Also in June, Lyon Arboretum received a special visit from Prince and Princess Akishino of Japan to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaiʻi. The royal couple enjoyed touring the grounds.

August: The first official centennial event was the Hoʻolauleʻa celebration on August 4. Attendees were treated to arts and crafts booths, live music and dance, food trucks and a variety of games and activities for people of all ages–but especially for keiki! More than 2,000 visitors attended, setting a new arboretum record.

September: The Lyon Centennial Symposium, “Aʻohe Pau Ka ʻIke I Ka Hālau Hoʻokahi: Celebrating 100 Years of Research,” was held September 13–14 at the East-West Center. More than 40 speakers gave presentations on a range of themes tied to the history and cultural significance of Lyon and its collections, as well as a full day of research presentations to give attendees a sampling of the volume of scientific work conducted at the arboretum, some dating as far back as 30 to 40 years ago.

November: More than 100 sponsors and benefactors who helped make the arboretum what it is today were recognized at a pau hana gathering.

The Honolulu City Council and Hawaiʻi State Legislature recognized the Lyon Arboretum’s Centennial at presentation ceremonies.

In honor of Arbor Day, the arboretum held a 100-tree centennial giveaway. Participants could win a native tree by answering trivia questions.

The popular bi-annual plant sale culminated the Lyon Arboretum’s centennial year.

“Come next year, we will be back to a more usual rhythm but there are nonetheless many goals that we will be working on so we will continue to be busy, which is a good thing!” remarked Zahawi. “We must also maintain the essential stewardship role we have taken on at Lyon, safeguarding the hundreds of threatened and endangered species that we have on our grounds and Hawaiian Rare Plant Program collections.”

Learn more about the Lyon Arboretum’s 100-year history.

—By Arlene Abiang