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BULLETIN | News for Members

By Della Watson

Grilled | Democracy Now | Calling All Millennial Movers and Shakers

Invading the Privacy of the People Who Make the Club Tick

Photo by Dana Edmunds
Name: Rick Kaponowaiwaiola Barboza
Location: Waimanalo, Oahu
Contribution: Horticulturalist, Hawaii Chapter newsletter columnist and board member
Web site:

In a recent column for the Hawaii Chapter newsletter you describe the Munroidendron Racemosun, an endangered species, as "trippy." [Laughs] Well, I mean, yeah, it looks trippy. It looks like it should be in Jurassic Park.

How do you know it turns your mouth purple? I sampled it. Even if things are slightly poisonous, you gotta taste it to see what degree of poison it is, you know.

Do you often eat strange plants? Not all the time, but if there's documentation that it was used in Hawaiian culture somehow, then I'll try it, yeah.

If it were up to you, would you let any non-native plants live in Hawaii? No non-culturally significant plants. Our ecosystem is just too fragile.

What about a non-native that gets along well with natives? Let me put it this way: Hawaii has been around for 70 million years and has about 1,400 native plant species that we know of. Today, more than 10,000 plants have been naturalized in Hawaii. We've completely altered the environment here. And so that's why I say, nah! I don't want anything non-native.

What's the biggest misconception mainlanders have about Hawaii? It's easy to go and drive into a nice, heavily vegetated forest, and they think they're surrounded by this Hawaiian beauty. But few of the plants in that forest are Hawaiian. Like right now I'm looking out my window into this lush valley, and most of the plants in this valley are non-Hawaiian.

What do you do when you're not tending to your plants? Watching sports, hiking, surfing, playing poker, and spending time with my family.

Are you good at poker? It depends on who you talk to. [Laughs] I used to go to Vegas a lot, which is probably anti—Sierra Club due to the amount of energy consumed.

So that's your vice, in more ways than one. Yeah, that's my vice. But it kinda runs in the family. We get together almost on a weekly basis, and we play cards together. The whole family--mom, dad, sisters, grandma.

Is your grandma any good? She's awesome at it. She really, really is. She's the matriarch of this poker-playing habit.

It sounds like you're close to your family. Very much. I have a girlfriend and a young son, 10 months old. Hopefully he'll continue on the push for native plants and strive to be the best poker player in the world. —interview by Della Watson

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Calling All Millennial Movers and Shakers

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