Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, April 6, 2001

Martha Noyes said even though Beatrice Krauss was frail in
her later years, she was alert and always willing to share her
knowledge. Noyes' illustrations grace the book on
medicinal plants written by Krauss.

Krauss’s legacy lives
in new book

By Suzanne Tswei

No one dreamed the little blue pamphlet on Hawaiian medicinal plants, "Native Plants Used as Medicine in Hawaii," would be a best seller. But Maile Meyer of Native Books couldn't keep the 52-page photocopied and poorly illustrated pamphlet in stock.

"It was amazing people were willing to buy that unattractive little pamphlet," Meyer said, "but there was nothing else like it. It was the only publication putting that kind of information out there, and it sold and sold and sold."

People bought the pamphlet also because it was written by Beatrice H. Krauss, THE ethnobotanist to talk to about Hawaiian medicinal plants. Through the 1990s, Meyer kept up the unprofitable practice of carrying the little blue pamphlet in her bookstore. She would drive to Lyon Arboretum in Manoa, which published the pamphlets, and bring them down to her store in Kalihi.

"Every time, it was a big production for us to go up the hill to pick up the pamphlets and come back down. We sold it for $5 but it probably cost us $4 just to get it," Meyer said.



What: "Plants in Hawaiian Medicine" and party to honor author Beatrice Krauss
Where: Lyon Arboretum, 3860 Manoa Road
When: 2 to 4 p.m. tomorrow
Cost: Free
Call: 988-0464

The little pamphlet, first published in 1979, went out of print a couple years ago but in its place is a 150-page book with expanded information and attractive illustrations by Martha Noyes.

Krauss, who died in 1998 at the age 94, spent the last two years of her life working on the book, "Plants in Hawaiian Medicine," which features the same 30 plants in the pamphlet.

Bess Press, the publisher, is launching the book Saturday with a party to honor Krauss. The public is invited to the party at Lyon Arboretum, where Krauss conducted research for more than 40 years. Noyes and others will share stories of Krauss.

The book will be for sale at the Arboretum Shop: $14.95 for softcover and $24.95 for hardcover. The book also will be available at all Native Books stores.

Noyes, herself a student of Hawaiian healing practices, describes Krauss as the most incredible person she's met. Krauss was a frail woman with two broken hips and osteoporosis but she was alert and always curious, thoughtful and generous with her knowledge, Noyes said.

Krauss, a Maui native and the first woman to receive a degree in agriculture from the University of Hawaii, not only documented traditional Hawaiian uses of plants but also helped to revive cultural practices, Noyes said.

Krauss had an extended family of friends and admirers who dropped by frequently to check on her. "There was never a time when I was with her that someone didn't come by with a plant or a bowl of homemade soup. You could tell everyone loved her."

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