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Department of Parks and Recreation
 
Michele K. Nekota Director Designate
Jeanne C. Ishikawa, Deputy Director

1000 Uluohia Street,
Suite 309
Kapolei, Hawaii 96707
Phone: (808) 768-3003
Fax: (808) 768-3053
email: parks@honolulu.gov
 
 
 
 

FOSTER BOTANICAL GARDEN

Has been entered on the National Register of Historic Places
 
Foster Garden traces its beginning to 1853 when Queen Kalama leased a small area of land to William Hillebrand, a young German doctor. A botanist as well as a physician, he and his wife built a home in the upper terrace area of the present garden. The magnificent trees which now tower over this area were planted by him. After twenty years in Hawaii, he returned to Germany and produced the excellent botanic treatise, Flora of the Hawaiian Islands (1888).

The Hillebrand property was later sold to Thomas (Captain) and Mary Foster who added to it and continued to develop the garden. Upon Mrs. Foster's death in 1930, the 5.5 acre site was bequeathed to the City and County of Honolulu as a public garden. The Foster Botanical Garden opened to the public on November 30, 1931, with Dr. Harold Lyon as its first director. Over a span of 27 years, Dr. Lyon introduced 10,000 new kinds of trees and plants to Hawaii. The Foster Garden orchid collection was started with Dr. Lyon's own plants.

Through purchases by the City and gifts from individuals, under the directorship of Paul R. Weissich (1957-89), Foster Garden expanded to over 13.5 acres. In addition to being a pleasant place to visit, Foster Botanical Garden is a living museum of tropical plants, some rare and endangered, which have been collected from throughout the world's tropics over a period of 150 years.

More than 75,000 visitors view the garden annually. Guided tours are given to thousands of school children as well as visitors from around the world. Honolulu's botanical garden system has broadened to other sites and now includes, in addition to Foster Botanical Garden, four other gardens on Oahu.

The Director of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens is Winifred N. Singeo.

AREAS OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE GARDEN

Lyon Orchid Garden - a collection of Old and New World orchid species.
Main Terrace - the oldest part of the garden dating from 1853.
Middle Terraces - palms, aroids, heliconia and ginger plants.
Economic Garden - herb garden, spices, dyes, poisons and beverage plants.
Prehistoric Glen - primitive plants from around the world.
The Orchid Conservatory - blooming orchid display.
Butterfly Garden - a colorful open-air habitat for Hawaii's butterflies.  
Exceptional Trees - 24 trees designated "exceptional" throughout the Garden.

EXCEPTIONAL TREES (Act 105)

"Exceptional trees" by reason of age, rarity, location, size, aesthetic quality, endemic status or historical and cultural significance may be designated by the County Arborist Committee as worthy of preservation. Foster Garden contains 24 of over 100 trees that have been designated exceptional on Oahu. Act 105 was enacted by the Hawaii State Legislature in 1975. This Act requires the counties, who possess primary control over land development, to safeguard the exceptional trees from injury or destruction.

For further information on Exceptional Trees, click on the following link, Exceptional Trees

FOSTER BOTANICAL GARDEN is home to a collection of rare and beautiful plants from the tropical regions of the world. Some are rare or endangered in their native habitat.
  • To preserve this fine collection, visitors are not allowed to pick any part of the growing plants or remove any plant material from the garden. Section 10-1.2, ROH.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Plants contain a wide range of substances used by humans as food, medicines, dyes, poisons, etc., but leaves, fruits, seeds and thorns may cause skin irritations, sneezing, external or internal discomfort, eye inflammation or puncture wounds.

  • A basic rule in any botanical garden is never put any unfamiliar plant or plant part in your mouth and use caution in touching any unfamiliar plant you encounter.

VOLUNTEER PROGRAM

The Honolulu Botanical Gardens employs the help of many volunteers to aid in the day to day operation of the gardens. Join those who are now working in the following areas:

Nursery Garden Reception Docent Program

For further information on volunteering, click on the link Volunteer Information  or call (808) 522-7064.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Admission

     $5.00 - General, 13 years and older
     $3.00 - Resident of Hawaii, 13 years and older with ID
     $1.00 - Child, 6 to 12 years old
     FREE - Child, 5 years old and under (must be with adult)
     $25.00 - Annual family pass

The garden is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Closed on Christmas Day (December 25) and New Years Day (January 1).

Guided tours are offered at 1:00 p.m. on Monday through Saturday of each week.  Reservations are suggested as tours are based on availability of volunteer docents.  Other tours may be arranged upon request. Call (808) 522-7066 for information.

The Garden is a favorite place for weddings and photo taking. A permit is required for weddings and commercial photography. For further information on weddings, call (808) 522-7066 or click on the link Weddings.

For further information, please contact:

Honolulu Botanical Gardens
Department of Parks and Recreation
50 N. Vineyard Blvd.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817
Phone: (808) 522-7060
E-mail: hbg@honolulu.gov
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, April 01, 2014