In 1920, under the guidance of Charles S. Judd, the Territory of Hawaii’s superintendent of forestry, Brother Mathias Newell, a nurseryman for the Catholic Boys’ School in Hilo, transformed an animal quarantine station into the Hilo Nursery Arboretum.
At the time, the territory’s Board of Forestry was introducing plant species from all over the world for the development of arboretums throughout the islands; on Hawaii Island, sites ranged from sea level to high atop Mauna Kea volcano.
More than a thousand trees were planted at the Hilo Nursery Arboretum, which meanders over 19.4 acres. Flourishing there today are about 50 species of trees and plants, including bird of paradise, a vivid ornamental; breadfruit, a staple in olden Hawaii; cacao, from which chocolate is made; and macadamia, whose delicious roasted nuts can be enjoyed by themselves or in cookies, candies, breads and more.
No tours are given; however, you’re welcome to explore on your own. A sheet distributed at the office lists species by numbers that correspond to the numbers on the actual plants and trees.