Native Mint, Little Leaf Stenogyne
Stenogyne rugosa is an endemic mint species in the Lamiaceae Family. It can be found growing under mamane trees in the fenced in area at the east end of the Visitor Information Station's parking lot.
The characteristic smell and taste of mint is usually a deterrent to browsing by goats, sheep, cows and other herbivores. However when the first mint plants arrived in Hawaii there were no animals here to eat them. Over the course of thousands and thousands of years, the endemic Hawaiian mint species gradually lost their minty flavor, because it was no longer needed for protection.