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Whistler, W. Arthur


DR. ART WHISTLER is a botanist whose field of expertise is the plants of the tropical Pacific islands, including Hawaii, the rest of Polynesia (including Samoa, Tonga, and Tahiti), Fiji, and Micronesia. Born and raised in Southern California, where he attended the University of California for his bachelor's degree (Riverside) and master's degree (Santa Barbara), he began his Pacific experience with a three year stint in the U.S. Peace Corps teaching college biology in Western Samoa (1968-70). Following the Peace Corps assignment, he moved to Hawaii where he attended the University of Hawaii and received his Ph.D. in Botany (1979), with his dissertation focusing on the vegetation of Samoa.

He subsequently became a lecturer in botany at the University of Hawaii until he received a post-doctoral appointment at the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai. He worked at that garden for nine years as an ethnobotanist (a scientist who studies how people use plants in native cultures), with particular emphasis on herbal medicine in Polynesia. This was followed by his current work with the small consulting company he founded, Isle Botanica, located in Honolulu. As a consultant, he has worked on numerous botanical projects in the Pacific Islands, including Samoa, Tonga, Niue, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Yap, Chuuk, Guam, and the Northern Marianas. Dr. Whistler has published numerous scientific articles about plants, as well as ten books, including Tropical Ornamentals: a Guide (2000, published by Timber Press), Plants in Samoan Culture (2001), Polynesian Herbal Medicine (1992), Tongan Herbal Medicine (1992), Samoan Herbal Medicine (1996), Flowers of the Pacific Island Seashore (1992), Rainforest trees of Samoa (2004), The Samoan Rainforest (2002) and Wayside Plants of the Islands (1995).

Dr. Whistler was a visiting Associate Professor of Biology at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji in 2007. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor with the University of Hawai'i Botany Department and with the Lyon Arboretum, and a research affiliate at the Bishop Museum Botany Department in Honolulu. Current projects include work on the flora of Samoa and Tonga and a book (expected 2008) on the ethnobotany plants of Polynesia.

Dr. Art Whistler
Adjunct Professor
Department of Botany
1979 PhD. Botany
University of Hawaii


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  • Whistler, W Arthur (Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Botany, 1992-02)
    Two or three decades ago, Samoa had the highest percentage of intact native vegetation of any Polynesian archipelago. This may still be true, but since then nearly all of the forests of the lowlands (up to ca. 400 m ...
  • Whistler, W Arthur (Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Botany, 1994-04)
    The park is important because of the native vegetation it contains. Some of the best lowland forest remaining in the archipelago is found on Tutuila. It occurs in two main areas, one within the park boundaries between ...
  • Whistler, W Arthur (University of Hawaii Press, 1990-04)
    A review of botanical specimens and ethnographic literature indicates that a small calabash used as a vessel for scented coconut oil in Polynesia before European contact belongs to Benin casa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn., the ...
  • Whistler, W Arthur (Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Botany, 1995-12)
    The National Park of American Samoa comprises units on three islands, Tutuila, Ta'u, and Ofu. The basis for this project began in December of 1990 with field work for a botanical inventory of the vegetation and flora of ...
  • Whistler, W Arthur (University of Hawai'i Press, 1983-07)
    The botany of four small, relatively undisturbed tuff cone islands off the east coast of Upolu, Western Samoa, is examined. During a series of visits to the islands, the vegetation was studied in nine sample plots, and ...
  • Whistler, W Arthur (University of Hawai'i Press, 1992-04)
    Based on field studies and a previous review of the literature, 22 plant communities are recognized in the two adjacent South Pacific archipelagoes of Samoa and Tonga. Because of similarities of climate and flora, most ...
  • Whistler, W Arthur (University of Hawaii Press, 1978-01)
    The natural vegetation of the volcanic region of Savai'i, Western Samoa, as surveyed on an expedition in 1975, is described. The natural vegetation of the highlands consists of cloud forest and smaller amounts of ...

Now showing items 1-7 of 7