Kona Kai opens gardens for tours

Guests at Key Largo’s Kona Kai Resort and Gallery, 97802 Overseas Highway, can enjoy complimentary self-guided tours through the property’s new botanic gardens -- one of the first ethnobotanic gardens in the southeast United States.

Guided appointment-only tours for the general public are available as well, weather permitting.

Ethnobotany is the exploration of how indigenous plants in a region are used as food, shelter, clothing or medicine.

Kona Kai has partnered with a resident botanist to conduct formal tours, presentations and events within the gardens.

"Plants are people too," says resort owner Joe Harris with a laugh. "OK, maybe that's going a little too far."

But in all seriousness, Harris said, the resort's goal is to impart to its visitors the important of plants and their role in the world. "We teach them ecological respect," he said.

Tours are 90 minutes long and limited to six adults at a specific time on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. A $15 donation is required.