Story by Janice Crowl
Photos by Jack Wolford
David Shiigi roams the shade house at Bromeliads Hawaii in Pana‘ewa, movingly gingerly among the benches so as not to brush the foliage—some of his plants are one-of-a-kind hybrids worth thousands of dollars. Thousands of bromeliads glisten with rainwater, radiating hues of jade, crimson, white, violet, gold, copper, shell pink and myriad other shades. David is a world-class bromeliad hybridizer, one of those unfortunate souls bitten by what collectors call “the bromeliad bug,” a syndrome that transforms otherwise rational people into plant fanatics. There are a lot of them—that is, both bromeliads and their worshippers —in Hawai‘i, a place that’s become an Eden for members of the family Bromeliaceae. It’s a rare Hawai‘i yard that doesn’t have at least one of the more than three thousand species growing.