Part 3

Native Plants and Ferns

of the Hawaiian Islands

Botanical Descriptions and Traditional Uses 

Key to Species Classifications:

Native—Arrived in the Hawaiian Islands without the aid of humans (indigenous), or evolved in the Hawaiian Islands (endemic).

Indigenous—Native to the Hawaiian Islands and other places.

Endemic—Evolved in the Hawaiian Islands from an indigenous species; native to the Hawaiian Islands and nowhere else.

Polynesian Introduction—Brought to the Hawaiian Islands by the early Polynesian settlers.

Post-Contact Introduction—Brought to the Hawaiian Islands after Western contact (1778).

Naturalized—Not native to the Hawaiian Islands, but now growing wild in the Hawaiian Islands.

‘A‘ali‘i (Dodonaea viscosa)

Common Name: Hawaiian Hopseed Bush

Indigenous

Family: Sapindaceae—Soapberry Family

Also known as mānele, ‘a‘ali‘i may grow as a small shrub or may reach a height of more than 33 ft (10 m). The plant has spatula-shaped leaves that are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide by 4 in (10 cm) long, and may be pointed or blunt. ‘A‘ali‘i prefers relatively dry habitat at middle to low elevations,

The yellow-brown wood of ‘a‘ali‘i, and the dark heartwood, are exceptionally hard and long lasting. In ancient Hawai‘i, the wood was used for posts to build houses and for making weapons, including spears.

‘A‘ali‘i is also referred to in Hawaiian as ‘a‘ali‘i kū makani, which means “‘a‘ali‘i standing in wind,” suggesting the plant’s ability to grow in the face of strong winds.

An ancient proverb states: “He ‘a‘ali‘i ku makani mai au; ‘a‘ohe makani nana e kula‘i.” (“I am a wind-resisting ‘a‘ali‘i; no gale can push me over.”), which is explained to mean:A boast meaning ‘I can hold my own even in the face of difficulties.’ The ‘a‘ali‘i bush can stand the worst of gales, twisting and bending but seldom breaking off or falling over.”[i]

‘A‘ali‘i is considered sacred to the hula goddesses, Laka. Strung into lei, the light red, reddish-purple, yellow or brown fruit capsules of ‘a‘ali‘i were traditionally woven with ‘a‘ali‘i leaves and ferns.

‘A‘ali’s fruit capsules are about ½-inch (13 mm) long with two to four winged angles, and are divided into 2 to 4 cells. Each cell contains one or two ovate seeds.

The crushed leaves of ‘a‘ali‘i had medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i, such as easing the irritation of rashes. The fruit capsules were crushed and boiled to create a red dye for kapa (tapa) barkcloth.

‘A‘li‘i is also a primary food source for the larvae of the Blackburn butterfly (Udara blackburni), one of just two native butterfly species in the Hawaiian Islands.

[Photograph: ‘A‘ali‘i]

A‘e (Sapindus saponaria)

Common Name: Soapberry

Indigenous

Family: Sapindaceae—Soapberry Family

Also referred to as mānele, a‘e usually grows as a small tree, but may reach more than 80 feet (24 m) in height, particularly at higher elevations. A‘e has a whitish-colored trunk, and compound, light green leaves with three to six mostly paired leaflets.

Each leaflet is about 2 to 5 inches (5 to 13 cm) long. Mature leaves take on a slightly winged shape, curving at the leaf’s axis.

A‘e also produces clusters of 5-parted chartreuse flowers at the ends of the branches, and brown-skinned fruits that are about ¾-inch (2 cm) in diameter. ‘A‘e’s fruits may be round or have two or three lobes.

The fruits contain a soapy, yellowish pulp as well as a seed that is about ½-inch (13 mm) in diameter. The round, black to brown, shiny seeds of a‘e may be strung into lei. (See Seed Lei in Chapter 3.)

A‘e prefers dry, middle elevation habitat, particularly on the volcanic slopes of the island of Hawai‘i. The Hawaiian term, ‘a‘e, also refers to particular species in the genus Zanthoxylum that were used in ancient Hawai‘i to make digging sticks and spears. The fruit has also been used to make a soap substitute.

[Photograph: A‘e]

‘Ahakea (Bobea species)

Endemic

Family: Rubiaceae—Coffee Family

‘Ahakea refers to various endemic Hawaiian species of trees in the Bobea genus.

Growing in mountain habitats, ‘ahakea has oblong, yellowish-green leaves that are medium-sized or small, with small, tubular flowers that are greenish or white. The trees also produce small, juicy fruits that are purplish or black in color. Each fruit may have from 2 to 12 elongated seeds.

The hard, yellow wood of ‘ahakea was used by ancient Hawaiians to make the rims of canoes as well as canoe paddles and poi boards. Modern canoe pale (gunwales) are sometimes painted yellow in imitation of the color of the traditional ‘ahakea wood.

‘Ahakea also had medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i, including as part of a preparation that was used to treat mouth sores (see Kukui). The mashed bark of ‘ahakea was heated with water to provide a liquid used to cleanse sores (see ‘Ulu), and as part of a treatment used to clean the blood (see Pōhuehue).

The Bobea genus consists of four species, all referred to as ‘ahakea and all are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

These species include: B. brevipes, known as ‘ahakea lau li‘i, growing up to 33 feet (10 m) tall on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i; B. elatior, known as ‘ahakea lau nui and growing up to 49 feet (15 m) tall on O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Maui and rarely on Hawai‘i Island; B. sandwicensis growing up to 33 feet (10 m) tall on O‘ahu, Moloka‘i, Maui and Lāna‘i; and B. timonioides, growing up to 33 feet (10 m) tall on Hawai‘i Island, O‘ahu, Maui and Kaua‘i.

[Photograph: ‘Ahakea]

‘Āheahea (Chenopodium oahuense)

Endemic

Family: Chenopodiaceae—Goosefoot Family

‘Āheahea is an endemic Hawaiian shrub, sometimes growing tree-like, with stems reaching heights of up to 10 feet (3 meters).

Āheahea’s leaves are fairly thick and fleshy, and about 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 8 cm) long and ½ to1½ inches (1.3 to 3.8 cm) wide. The leaves grow alternate to one another and are fairly thick and fleshy.

‘Āheahea’s small, symmetrical flowers grow in panicles (branched inflorescences, or flower clusters), and are without petals. The fruit is a small, dark brown nut.

The leaves and the tips of the plant were traditionally wrapped in leaves of kī (Cordyline fruticosa, ti) and then cooked over hot coals to be eaten as greens. The wood of ‘āheahea was used to construct composite fishhooks, particularly makau manō (shark hooks), which had bone points that were lashed to the wood using cordage made from olonā (Touchardia latifolia).

‘Āheahea grows in dry forests as well as coastal areas and subalpine shrubland at elevations up to about 8,200 feet (2,500 m) on all of the main Hawaiian Islands except Kaho‘olawe, as well as on several of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

A related non-native species, Chenopodium murale, is also referred to as ‘āheahea and now naturalized on all the main Hawaiian Islands.

[Photograph: ‘Āheahea]

‘Āhinahina (Argyroxiphium sandwicense)

Common Name: Silversword

Endemic

Family: Asteraceae—Sunflower Family

[Illustration: Silversword atop Haleakalā]

The silversword is easily recognized by its basal rosette of long silvery, sword-like leaves coated with silver-colored hairs. Adapted to high elevation, desert-like habitats in the Hawaiian Islands, the silversword’s stiff, reflective leaves give the plant a shiny, silver appearance.

Hairs on the plant’s leaves capture moisture, which is often visible in the early morning as glistening dew. The leaves also contain a gel similar to aloe, which helps the silversword retain water.

The silversword’s basal rosette is about 24 inches (60 cm) around, and the plant’s height may exceed 6 feet (1.8 m). The silversword matures in about 7 to 30 years, and then a stem may rise more than 9 ft (2.7 m) up from the plant’s center, sprouting 100 to 500 pink to purplish daisy-like flowers that are embedded in insect-trapping sticky tissues.

Generally it is the plants that are more than five years old that send up a tall flowerhead from the basal rosette, and this occurs between July and September. After flowering, the plant dies.

There are two subspecies of ‘āhinahina, and both came near to extinction due to rampant destruction by goats (which ate the plants). Humans also contributed to the demise of the plants, pulling them up from the ground to watch them roll down the volcanic slopes.

A. sandwicense ssp. sandwicense (the Mauna Kea silversword) was once common at upper elevations of Mauna Kea, but now is an endangered species, with its range restricted to the Wailuku basin area at an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,850 m).

There were approximately 500 plants in 1999. A. sandwicense ssp. macrocephalum (the Haleakalā silversword) is found only on the upper elevations of Maui’s Haleakalā Volcano, and is listed as a threatened species. There were approximately 65,000 plants in 1999.

‘Āhinahina evolved to tolerate high the alpine cinder desert habitats of Mauna Kea, Haleakalā and East Maui, where temperatures on the lava rock may exceed 130º Fahrenheit in summer and reach extremely low temperatures in winter.

Other Hawaiian names for ‘āhinahina include ‘āhina, and hinahina. Related species include the endangered species A. kauense, also known as the Ka‘ū silversword, and A. caliginis, also called the ‘Eke silversword.

The ‘Eke silversword is endemic to West Maui’s ‘Eke and Pu‘ukukui summit bogs at elevations from 4,400 to 5,400 feet (1,350 to 1,650 m).

Argyroxiphium sandwicense subspecies sandwicense (Mauna Kea silversword) is an endangered species found only on Hawai‘i Island. Argyroxiphium sandwicense subspecies macrocephalum (Haleakalā silversword) is listed as threatened, and is found only on Maui.

Also in the Argyroxiphium genus are the greenswords, which are rare endemic plants living only in Maui’s cloud forest habitats from 4,000 to 6,700 feet (1,200 to 2,050 m), such as the bogs at the 6,100 foot (1,850 m) elevation on East Maui and the Violet Lake bog on West Maui.

Greenswords resemble silverswords, but greenswords have adapted to wet habitats and don’t have the succulent and hairy leaves of the silversword. The flowerheads of greenswords sprout dozens of yellow daisy-like blooms, flowering between June and January.

Though two greensword species are known—A. grayanum and A. virescens—the latter is believed to be extinct, having last been seen on Maui in 1945.

[Photograph: Silversword]

‘Ahu‘awa (Cyperus javanicus)

Indigenous

Family: Cyperaceae—Sedge Family

‘Ahu‘awa is a sedge that grows usually from 1 to 4 feet (30 to 120 cm) tall. Growing from the base of the plant is a cluster of narrow leaves that are pale green in color and rather rough.

A tall, slender stem rises up from the base, and bears at its tip a radiating inflorescence (flower cluster) measuring from 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) with five or six bracts (modified leaves).

‘Ahu‘awa prefers moist, lowland habitat. It is often found in marshes, along streams, near taro patches and in rocky as well as grassy coastal areas.

‘Ahu‘awa was used in ancient Hawai‘i to strain ‘awa (Piper methysticum, kava) and numerous medicinal formulations (see Hau, ‘Awa, Kukui, Pia, and ‘Ulu sections). The stems of ‘ahu‘awa were pounded to reveal the fibers, which were then used for straining. An ancient proverb states: “O Honu‘apo aku no ia o kāhi o ka ‘ahu‘awa.” (That is Hono‘apo where the ‘ahu‘awa grows.”), which is explained to mean, A Ka‘ū saying about disappointment. The ‘ahu‘awa was much used as fiber for straining ‘awa. A play on hoka (to strain, to be disappointed).”[ii]

‘Ahu‘awa also had various other uses in ancient Hawai‘i, including for use in making large-meshed nets used to catch sea turtles.

Another related coarse sedge that the Hawaiians called ‘ahu‘awa is C. hypochlorus, which is very similar to C. javanicus. C. hypochlorus is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, while C. javanicus may be found in other places, such as Asia and tropical Africa.

According the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition,[iii] ‘ahu‘awa was classified as Mariscus javanicus. In the 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i,[iv] it was determined that the Mariscus genus is no longer recognized, and all of the Hawaiian species formerly in that genus should instead be placed in the Cyperus genus (thus ‘ahu‘awa is now classified as Cyperus javanicus).

On the 3/05/2002 federal endangered species list, the genus was still listed as Mariscus, with two species endangered (M. fauriei and M. pennatiformis).

[Photograph: ‘Ahu‘awa]

‘Aiakanēnē (Coprosma ernodeoides)

Endemic

Family: Rubiaceae—Coffee Family

‘Aiakanēnē is a woody, prostrate shrub with stems up to about 10 feet (3 m). The stems may root at the nodes, and the plant produces many lateral branches ascending up to about 8 inches (20 cm).

The tiny, narrow leaves of ‘aiakanēnē are crowded together, and the small fruits are glossy black and berry-like. The plant also bears small, tubular flowers.

The literal meaning of ‘aiakanēnē is “food of the nēnē goose,” though another traditional Hawaiian name of this endemic Hawaiian plant is kūkaenēnē, which literally means “goose dung.”

The bark of ‘aiakanēnē’s inner stem was used to produce a yellow dye for kapa (tapa) barkcloth, while the plant’s fruit was used to produce a purple to black dye.

‘Aiakanēnē grows in open areas, including lava flows and subalpine woodlands at elevations from 4,000 to 8,500 feet (1,220 to 2,590 m).

[Photograph: ‘Aiakanēnē]

‘Aiea (Nothocestrum species)

Endemic

Family: Solanaceae—Nightshade Family

‘Aiea commonly grows as a shrub or small tree, but may reach heights up to 33 feet (10 m) tall with soft wood and oblong or ovate leaves.

Growing at middle to upper elevations in various dry to wet forest habitats, ‘aiea bears yellowish (sometimes greenish), tubular flowers. ‘Aiea also produces fleshy berries that vary in color from whitish (rarely) to yellowish-orange to red and rarely white, with brownish, hairy sepals that may be nearly as long as the floral tube.

There are four different species of ‘aiea in the Nothocestrum genus that are referred to by the Hawaiian word ‘aiea, and all are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

The four species of ‘aiea are: N. breviflorum, an endangered species growing on the island of Hawai‘i; N. latifolium, growing on Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu and Moloka‘i; N. longifolium, growing on all of the main Hawaiian Islands with the exceptions of Kaho‘olawe and Ni‘ihau; and N. peltatum, an extremely rare endangered species found only on Kaua‘i.

In ancient Hawai‘i, the wood of ‘aiea was used for making thatching sticks, pale (gunwales) of canoes, and for fire-making.

[Photograph: ‘Aiea]

‘Ākala (Rubus species)

Common Name: Hawaiian Raspberry

Endemic

Family: Rosaceae—Rose Family

The rose-colored 1 inch (2.5 cm) diameter fruits of the ‘ākala are an example of the tendency of island seeds and fruits to be exceptionally large.

The berries of ‘ākala vary from red to dark purple in color (rarely yellow), and are used to make a tasty jam, though the ‘ākala berry is not as sweet as common raspberries.

The fruits of ‘ākala were used by ancient Hawaiians to make a pink dye for their kapa barkcloth. ‘Ākala means “pink,” and refers to the pink juice of the berry.

The Hawaiian term ‘ākala refers to two endemic Hawaiian species, Rubus hawaiensis and Rubus macraei. According to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition,[v]

Rubus macraei was a derivative of (evolved from) Rubus hawaiensis, but recent research has shown that the two species are the result of independent colonizations in the Hawaiian Islands. This was documented in the 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i.[vi] The fruits of both species are edible, as described above.

Rubus hawaiensis grows erect with prickly stems up to 15 feet (4.6 m) in height, with leaves that are about 6 inches (15 cm) long, sometimes comprised of three leaflets, but sometimes merely three-lobed or undivided.

R. macraei has similar leaves, but is more of a trailing shrub, with reddish-yellow hairs and reddish prickles on the stems. The flower of both species is ½-inch (13 mm) long with a 5-parted calyx (the outer row of the flower’s parts) and dark red to pinkish-purple rose-like petals.

Rubus hawaiensis prefers moist, middle elevation forests and sub-alpine woodlands on Hawai‘i Island, Maui, Moloka‘i and Kaua‘i, and Moloka‘i. Rubus macraei is less common, growing on Hawai‘i Island and East Maui preferring steep, rocky areas as well as wet forests and subalpine shrubland.

Rubus macraei is the result of a separate colonization from Rubus hawaiensis. The Hawaiian term ‘ākala also refers to the introduced thimbleberry, R. rosifolius.

[Photograph: ‘Ākala (Rubus hawaiensis)]

‘Ākia (Wikstroemia species)

Endemic

Family: Thymelaeaceae—‘Ākia Family

The Hawaiian term ‘ākia refers to 12 endemic Hawaiian species in the Wikstroemia genus. ‘Ākia is a sprawling endemic shrub with small, yellow-green, tubular, 4-parted flowers. The tiny flowers have a heady scent, and grow in cluster on the leaf axils or at the branch tips. The branches of ‘ākia are jointed, and repeatedly fork. The plant has small oval leaves.

‘Ākia also produces fleshy one-seeded fruits that are less than ½-inch (13 mm) in diameter. The small berries may be yellow, red, or orangish in color. In ancient Hawai‘i the berries were strung into lei known as lei ‘ākia ha‘a ha‘a. (See ‘Ākia in Seed Lei section, Chapter 3.)

W. oahuensis, which is mentioned in connection with ‘anā‘anā (evil sorcery involving incantations and prayers), is found in mesic (moist) to wet forest areas, as well as on rocky ridges and in bogs.

The roots, leaves and bark of W. oahuensis provided fibers that had various uses in ancient Hawai‘i, including cordage. The pounded bark, roots, and leaves of some ‘ākia species were used for poisoning (stupefying) fish (so they were easier to catch), and as part of a preparation for treating bad cases of hānō (asthma). (See Niu.)

The Hawaiian term ‘ākia refers to 12 endemic Hawaiian species in the Wikstroemia genus. ‘Ākia grows in a variety of Hawaiian habitats, particularly in dry habitat at low elevations.

[Photograph: ‘Ākia]

‘Akoko (Chamaesyce species)

Common Name: Spurge

Endemic

Family: Euphorbiaceae—Spurge Family

[Illustration: ‘Akoko]

‘Akoko is a Hawaiian term referring to various endemic shrubs and trees in the Chamaesyce genus, which grow in a variety of Hawaiian habitats, mostly along the coast and lower foothills.

Koko is the Hawaiian term for blood, and ‘akoko refers to the “blood colored” fruiting capsules that grow at the tips of the branches, and may be red, green or pinkish in color. The fruit capsules are 3-angled and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long.

The dark green, shiny leaves may also show a red color, particularly when damaged or just before they drop from the plant. This is particularly true of C. degeneri, a low-lying sprawling variety of ‘akoko that is commonly known as the beach spurge, and grows in coastal areas on the main Hawaiian Islands, including on sand dunes. At the branch tips and leaf axils are small yellow flowers.

The round, succulent leaves of ‘akoko may be 1 to 5 inches (2.5 to 13 cm) long by about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, growing opposite one another. The characteristic milky sap of ‘akoko was an ingredient in paint used on the hulls of canoes.

‘Akoko also had medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i. C. multiformis was the particular variety used in a preparation to treat general debility, and the buds and leaves were also chewed for this same purpose.

C. multiformis grows on the leeward side of Hawai‘i Island, and also on Maui, Moloka‘i, and O‘ahu, at elevations from 650 to 1,600 feet (200 to 500 m).

The most widespread species of ‘akoko is C. celastroides, found in coastal areas and up to 5,900 feet (1,800 m) on all of the main Hawaiian Islands, as well as on Nihoa. Other Hawaiian names for ‘akoko include ēkoko, koko, and kōkōmālei.

Four Chamaesyce species are on the endangered species list, including C. deppeana (O‘ahu); C. halemanui (Kaua‘i); C. kuwaleana (O‘ahu); C. rockii (O‘ahu); and C. herbstii (O‘ahu).

Two Chamaesyce varieties are also endangered: C. celastroides var. kaenana (O‘ahu); and C. skottsbergii var. skottsbergii (Moloka‘i).

[Photograph: ‘Akoko]

‘Āla‘a (Pouteria sandwicensis)

Endemic

Family: Sapotaceae—Sapodilla Family

‘Āla‘a is a large tree that prefers dry, mid-elevation habitats and may reach heights of more than 66 feet (20 m). The oval-shaped, green leaves are smooth and shiny.

The leaves of ‘āla‘a are about 1 to 6 inches (2.5 to 15 cm) long by ¾ to 3 inches (2 to 7.5 cm) wide, and bronze-colored on the underside, with a prominent center vein. ‘Āla‘a produces pear-shaped fruit that is yellow-orange to purplish-black in color and may be up to 2 inches (5 cm) long.

In ancient Hawai‘i, the hard wood of ‘āla‘a was used for house construction and for the pale (gunwales) of canoes. The wood was also used to make handles for ‘ō‘ō (digging sticks) and ihe (spears).

An ancient proverb states: Ke wela nei no ka ‘ili i ka maka ihe.” (The skin still feels the heated sting of the spear point.”), which issaid when one is still at war. First uttered by Keaweama‘uhili to Kahāhana.[vii]

The sticky, milky sap of ‘āla‘a was used as birdlime to capture birds, which were sought after for food and for their plumage, which was used to make various items of Hawaiian featherwork, including ‘ahu ‘ula (royal capes and cloaks), mahiole (feather-crested helmets), kāhili (royal feather standards) and other symbols of chiefly rank.

[Photograph: ‘Āla‘a]

‘Ala‘ala wai nui (Peperomia species)

Common Name: Forest Peppers

Endemic; Indigenous

Family: Piperaceae—Pepper Family

‘Ala‘ala wai nui is a Hawaiian term that refers to all species in the genus Peperomia, a group of small fleshy, forest herbs that prefer moist habitat. ‘Ala‘ala wai nui often has a reddish stem, and produces rounded fruits on upright green spikes, which may also display hundreds of small flowers.

There are 25 native species (from three or four independent colonizations), mostly endemic to the Hawaiian Islands except for P. leptostachya and P. tetraphylla, which are indigenous. There is also an introduced species, P. pellucida, which is now naturalized in the Hawaiian Islands.

The leaves and stems of ‘ala‘ala wai nui were used in ancient Hawai‘i to produce a dye with a grayish-green color, referred to in Hawaiian as ‘āhiahia or puahia.

Specific varieties of ‘ala‘ala wai nui, particularly ‘ala‘ala wai nui pehu (pehu means “swollen”) were used by ancient Hawaiians in various medicinal formulations, including: a treatment for chest pain (see Hala); a treatment for ‘ea (thrush) (see ‘Ilima); a preparation to ease a difficult childbirth (see Hala), and treatments for hānō (asthma). (See Mai‘a, and ‘Uhaloa sections.)

The succulent forest herbs of ‘ala‘ala wai nui are in the same family (Piperaceae) as the plant whose fruit is used to produce commercial pepper (Piper nigrum). This family also includes the Polynesian-introduced ‘awa (kava, P. methysticum).

[Photograph: ‘Ala‘ala wai nui]

Alahe‘e (Canthium odoratum)

Indigenous

Family: Rubiaceae—Coffee Family

Alahe‘e is a small tree or shrub reaching heights up to 20 feet (6 m). The leaves are oval, with a glossy upper surface. Fragrant white flowers grow at the branch tips. The flowers are about ¼-inch (6 mm) long, with four or five lobes. The black fruits of alahe‘e are about 1/3-inch (8.5 mm) long and grooved on the sides.

Alahe‘e prefers relatively dry habitat, including lava flow areas and dry shrubland, though it also may be found in wetter areas, such as O‘ahu’s Mount Ka‘ala, up to about 3,000 feet (900 m).

Along with uhiuhi (Caesalpinia kavaiensis), ‘ūlei (Osteomeles anthyllidifolia, Hawaiian hawthorn), and kauila (Colubrina oppositifolia), alahe‘e was used by the early Polynesian settlers of the Hawaiian Islands to make agricultural tools, such as ‘ō‘ō (digging sticks).

Alahe‘e was also used to make adze blades (also often made from stone) that were used to cut softer woods, including kukui (Aleurites moluccana, candlenut) and wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis, coral tree).

Alahe‘e reportedly had medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i, and the leaves were used to create a black dye. Recent botanical studies may eventually place C. odoratum in the Psydrax genus, and it is already classified by some sources as Psydrax odorata. Alahe‘e is also known by the Hawaiian terms walahe‘e and ‘ōhe‘e.

[Photograph: Alahe‘e]

Aloalo (Hibiscus species)

Common Name: Hibiscus

Endemic; Indigenous

Family: Malvaceae—Mallow Family

Aloalo is a general Hawaiian term for six species of native Hawaiian hibiscus: ma‘o hau hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei); ‘akiohala (Hibiscus furcellatus); koki‘o (Hibiscus kokio); Hibiscus clayi; koki‘o ke‘oke‘o (Hibiscus arnottianus, Hibiscus waimeae). Each of these six native aloalo species is described in more detail below.

Transient bloomers, the beautiful aloalo blossoms last only about one day. The aloalo flower consists of a 5-lobed cup with several bracts (modified leaves). Varieties of aloalo display various different colors.

The five petals of the flower blossom may be red, yellow, orange, white, or pink, sometimes with a darker area at the base of the petals. From the center of the flower there emerges a long staminal column with many stamens and a 5-lobed style. The plant also produces small fruit capsules, each containing about 15 or more seeds.

Ancient Hawaiians had various uses for aloalo, including a medicinal preparation that aided digestion. The hibiscus family, Malvaceae, also includes ma‘o (Gossypium sandvicense, Hawaiian cotton), as well as ‘ilima (Sida fallax), which is also O‘ahu’s official island emblem.

Today a fresh hibiscus flower is often used as a hair adornment, and said to signal that a person is looking for a mate if the flower is over the right ear, or that the person has already found a mate if the flower is over the left ear.

It should be noted that hau (Talipariti tiliaceum), a relatively common plant in the Hawaiian Islands, was considered one of seven native hibiscus species by the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition,[viii] and formerly classified as Hibiscus tiliaceus. However, the 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i,[ix] reclassified the species as Talipariti tiliaceum, and it is considered indigenous, although there is a possibility that it is actually non-native, and a Polynesian-introduced species (see Hau).

The reclassification of hauout of the Hibiscus genuslowers the number of native Hawaiian hibiscus species to six.

Varieties of Native Hibiscus

The following are brief descriptions of the six native Hawaiian varieties of hibiscus:

· Ma‘o Hau Hele—Hawai‘i’s State Flower

Hibiscus brackenridgei, which has bright yellow flowers, is an endemic Hawaiian species known in Hawaiian as ma‘o hau hele. The leaves are maple-like.

Aloalo was named the official flower of the Territory of Hawai‘i by the Legislature in 1923. The Legislature didn’t specify any particular one of the many varieties of the hibiscus, however, which led to some confusion. The various colors and types were said by some to represent the unique ethnic mix of people in the Hawaiian Islands.

Eventually many people considered the native (endemic) red hibiscus (koki‘o, Hibiscus kokio) or the red Chinese species (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) to be the state flower. Hawai‘i’s State Legislature clarified the issue in 1988 when it named the native pua ma‘o hau hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei, yellow hibiscus), to be the official state flower. (See State of Hawai‘i in Island Emblems section, Chapter 3.) Hibiscus brackenridgei is on the federal endangered species list.

There are two subspecies of Hibiscus brackenridgei: H. b. subspecies brackenridgei (a shrub or small tree, found on Lāna‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i and Hawai‘i Island), and H. b. subspecies mokuleianus (a tree, found on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu.

The leaves of H. b. ssp. brackenridgei are rounder than H. b. ssp. mokuleianus, and have yellow veins, while H. b. ssp. mokuleianus leaves have pink veins. H. b. ssp. mokuleianus also has margins that are more serrated than H. b. ssp. brackenridgei. The branches of H. b. ssp. mokuleianus have tiny spines while H. b. ssp. brackenridgei does not have spiny branches.

A variety of H. b. ssp. brackenridgei was recently discovered in O‘ahu’s Mākua Valley having characteristics (e.g., pink veins) of H. b. ssp. mokuleianus. Botanists are currently deciding how to classify the plant.

[Photograph: Ma‘o hau hele (H. b. subspecies brackenridgei; H. b. subspecies mokuleianus]

· ‘Akiohala

Hibiscus furcellatus is an indigenous species with pinkish flowers. It is known by the Hawaiian term ‘akiohala.

[Photograph: ‘Akiohala]

· Koki‘o

Hibiscus kokio is the endemic Hawaiian red hibiscus species known as koki‘o.

Hibiscus kokio was known for the fine charcoal produced by its wood, and is also referred to in Hawaiian as koki‘o ‘ula‘ula (‘ula means “red”). The red hibiscus flowers were used by the ancient Hawaiians to create a red or pinkish-red dye. The flowers also had mild laxative properties.

Koki‘o usually reaches about 4 to 10 feet (1.2 to 3 m) high, and the flowers are about 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) in diameter. Different varieties and subspecies have slightly different features.

For example, H. k. variety pukooense has dark red flowers while the flowers of H. k. subspecies kahiliensis are bright pink. Fluorescent orange flowers are produced by H. k. subspecies st. johnianus.

[Photograph: Koki‘o]

· Hibiscus clayi

Hibiscus clayi is an endemic Hawaiian variety with red flowers similar to koki‘o (Hibiscus kokio), but with narrower leaves.

Hibiscus clayi grows on Kaua‘i in a region extending from the Anahola Mountains to Hāli‘i Valley and the Nounou Mountains. Hibiscus clayi is on the federal endangered species list.

[Photograph: Hibiscus clayi]

· Koki‘o Ke‘oke‘o

Hibiscus arnottianus, the endemic Hawaiian white hibiscus also referred to as koki‘o ke‘oke‘o.

Hibiscus arnottianus is found mostly on O‘ahu and known for its large white aromatic flowers (ke‘oke‘o means “white”). There are three subspecies of Hibiscus arnottianus, including subspecies arnottianus, immaculatus, and punaluuensis.

Hibiscus arnottianus subspecies immaculatus is on the endangered species list, found only on Moloka‘i. Hibiscus arnottianus subspecies immaculatus used to be common over large areas but has disappeared from much of its former habitat due to introduced species, (e.g., pigs, goats).

Hibiscus arnottianus subspecies immaculatus is now cultivated in many gardens due to the efforts of those trying to save Hibiscus arnottianus subspecies immaculatus from extinction. It has a white staminal column (unlike the other native white hibiscus) and the leaves are edged with rounded shallow teeth.

[Photograph: Koki‘o Ke‘oke‘o—Hibiscus arnottianus]

Hibiscus waimeae is endemic to Kaua‘i and known by the Hawaiian name koki‘o ke‘oke‘o. Also referred to by the Hawaiian term, koki‘o ke‘oke‘o, Hibiscus waimeae is similar to Hibiscus arnottianus, but generally has smaller leaves, and is endemic to Kaua‘i.

Hibiscus waimeae is a rare and endangered plant that may top 33 ft (10 m) in height, with gray bark and white flower petals that open in the morning and then become more pinkish by afternoon.

There are two subspecies of Hibiscus waimeae: H. w. subspecies hannerae (an endangered species found only in a few northwest Kaua‘i valleys, including Limahuli Valley and Hanakāpī‘ai Valley); and H. w. subspecies waimeae, found in Kaua‘i’s southwest valleys near the ocean, and Waimea Canyon. Hibiscus waimeae subspecies hannerae has smaller flowers but larger leaves than subspecies waimeae.

Both Hibiscus arnottianus and Hibiscus waimeae are fragrant, which makes them unique among hibiscus. Another distinguishing factor of these species is their pink-colored to magenta-colored staminal column. Both species are popular for use in producing hybrids.

[Photograph: Koki‘o Ke‘oke‘o—Hibiscus waimeae]

Various non-native ornamental hibiscus varieties are common in the Hawaiian Islands:

· Aloalo Ko‘ako‘a (ko‘ako‘a means “coral”) is the Hawaiian term for the coral hibiscus (Hibiscus schizopetalus).

Aloalo ko‘ako‘a is native to East Africa. The plant’s beautiful pendant, coral-colored flowers have fringed petals that arch up and back as they bloom. A deep red velvety variety was produced by hybridizing the plant with koki‘o (Hibiscus kokio).

[Photograph: Aloalo Ko‘ako‘a]

· Aloalo Pahūpahū (Malvaviscus arboreus var. penduliflorus) is also known as Turk’s Cap.

Turk’s cap is a native of Mexico, and is now common along roadsides in the Hawaiian Islands, and as an ornamental plant. Aloalo pahūpahū’s scientific name, penduliflorus, means “firecracker.”

The plant’s hanging blossoms are a bright scarlet color and look like unopened hibiscus blossoms. (See Aloalo Pahūpahū in Lei Flowers section, Chapter 3.)

[Photograph: Aloalo Pahūpahū]

· Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is of Asian origin, and is also known as red or Chinese hibiscus.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is one of the most popular hibiscus for use as hedges in the Hawaiian Islands as it blooms for extended periods. The flowers may be orange, yellow, red and variegated.

[Photograph: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis]

Ālula (Brighamia species)

Endemic to Kaua‘i and Moloka‘i.

Family: Campanulaceae—Bellflower Family

[Illustration: Ālula]

The Brighamia genus, also known by the Hawaiian term ālula, is divided into two species, both endangered: Brighamia insignis (also known as ‘ōlulu) found on the ocean cliffs of Kaua‘i’s Nāpali Coast, the nearby Hā‘upu Ridge, and on Ni‘ihau’s Ka‘ali Cliff; and Brighamia rockii (also known as pua ‘ala) and found on the windward sea cliffs of Moloka‘i between Hālawa and Kalaupapa. Both species have a rosette of large leaves that are about 6 inches (16 cm) long and 3½ inches (9 cm) wide.

Brighamia insignis has a yellow corolla, while Brighamia rockii has a white corolla with a tube that is yellowish green. The slightly fragrant flowers, arranged in a crown, emerge from the leaf axils on stem-like tubes. The flowers are about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.

The ālula plant is said to resemble a cabbage on the end of a baseball bat. The stalk is sometimes branched. The plant was featured in Strangers in Paradise, a National Geographic television special, and at the IMAX in Waikiki, showing researchers scaling Kaua‘i’s cliffs to hand-pollinate the flowers.

This endangered species preservation effort has been going on for about the last 20 years, and often requires rappelling down cliffs and other arduous work to reach the rare plants.

Ālula was on the brink of extinction (because the moth that once pollinated the plant is now extinct) before benefiting greatly from the efforts of botanists who sought out the plant in its few remaining locations in order to assist in pollination and collect seeds for propagation.

Ālula preservation work is done principally by botanists of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens along Kaua‘i’s north coast. Many ālula plants now exist at the NTBG’s Limahuli Garden, a botanical preserve at the “end of the road,” (Kūhiō Highway-Route 560) on Kaua‘i’s north shore, which is also the beginning of the Nāpali coastline. The ālula is also being propagated at Kaua‘i’s Kīlauea Point Lighthouse National Wildlife Refuge.

‘Ālula was common along the Nāpali Coast trail until the mid 1900s when a variety of factors led to its decimation. These factors included introduced animals and plants, rock slides, over collection by people, and damage caused by Hurricane ‘Iniki. The plant remains extremely endangered with probably less than 100 growing in the wild.

The Brighamia genus belongs to the subfamily Lobelioideae of the family Campanulaceae (the Bellflower family), including some of the most beautiful flowers in the Hawaiian Islands. (See Hāhā‘aiakamanu, Koli‘i, ‘Ōhā, and Pu‘e sections.)

Recent molecular analyses (see Introduction to Native Plants and Ferns of the Hawaiian Islands) have shown that more than 120 uniquely Hawaiian species in the Campanulaceae subfamily Lobelioideae evolved from just one original colonizing species, a striking example of the evolutionary process of adaptive radiation.

The plants in the Campanulaceae subfamily Lobelioideae evolved in concert (co-evolved) with the native honeycreeper birds whose long, curving beaks pollinated the blossoms. Unfortunately, 25% of Lobelioideae are now extinct, as are more than 50% of the honeycreeper bird species that once pollinated the flowers.

[Photograph: Ālula]

‘Ama‘u (Sadleria species)

Common Name: Hawaiian Tree Fern

Endemic

Family: Blechnaceae—Blechnum Ferns

The Hawaiian term ‘ama‘u refers to all six endemic species of ferns in the genus Sadleria. The three largest species of ‘ama‘u are: S. souleyetiana (the largest); S. pallida (with transparent leaf veins); and S. cyatheoides (with opaque leaves).

‘Ama‘u tree ferns prefer moist forest habitats at elevations from 3,000 to 7,200 feet (900 to 2,200 m). ‘Ama‘u is also prevalent on relatively recent lava flow areas.

The trunk of ‘ama‘u may be less than 1 foot (30 cm) or more than 16 feet (5 m) tall, varying in different species. The fronds of ‘ama‘u are up to 3 feet (1 m) long, which is generally smaller and narrower than the fronds of hāpu‘u tree ferns (Cibotium species), and not as finely divided. ‘Ama‘u fronds are otherwise similar to those of hāpu‘u, consisting of many segments on a prominent midvein.

When ‘ama‘u fronds are young they are a bright red-bronze color, but they take on a glossy, dark green color as they mature. The fronds are a glossy, dark green color on top and more of a whitish green on the underside of the frond.

During times of food scarcity, ancient Hawaiians cooked and ate the starchy pith of ‘ama‘u tree ferns. This was done by cutting off the top and removing the hard outer layer from the trunk, then wrapping the inner pith in leaves of kī (Cordyline fruticosa, ti) and baking it in an imu (underground earthen oven). Young fronds of ‘ama‘u were also eaten, either cooked or raw.

The stems of ‘ama‘u tree ferns were used for plaiting, for thatching houses (when pili wasn’t available), for covering the walls of houses and for sizing kapa (tapa) barkcloth.

During the preparation of kapa, the sap of ‘ama‘u was sometimes mixed with the fresh water sprinkled on the bark strips during the beating process. A slimy extract from the fronds is known as palaholo, and was used to glue pieces of kapa barkcloth together. Young ‘ama‘u fronds were also used to create a red dye used on kapa.

An ancient proverb states: “Pepe‘e a palaholo.” (“A rolled-up frond—pasted for tapa cloth.”), which is “said of the ‘ama‘u fern, which furnishes sap used in tapa-making. Implies the same thought as the saying, ‘Great oaks from little acorns grow.’”[x]

Ancient Hawaiians utilized ‘ama‘u fronds for various other purposes, including as a mulch in the dry-land taro fields. Some ‘ama‘u tree ferns produce pulu, the soft wooly material also found in the hāpu‘u tree fern (Cibotium species). Pulu had many uses in ancient Hawai‘i (see Hāpu‘u).

The ‘ama‘u tree fern also has connections to ancient myths and traditions. According to legend, the pig god Kamapua‘a may take the form of ‘ama‘u, and has done so at Halema‘uma‘u Crater, a pit crater within the larger Kīlauea Crater on Hawai‘i Island.

Halema‘uma‘u means “House surrounded by the ‘ama‘u fern,” referring to the ferns that surround the volcanic crater and are the embodiment of Kamapua‘a.

At an elevation of 3,646 feet (1,111 m), Halema‘uma‘u Crater is also said to be the site where Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes, still protects her sacred fires. Kamapua‘a was the demi-god who pursued the love of Pele, but was rejected.

‘Ama‘u had medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i, including as part of a medicinal preparation to alleviate hānō (asthma). The medicine included flowers of kī (Cordyline fruticosa, ti), the pith of the trunk of ‘ama‘u, and ‘ēkaha (Asplenium nidus, bird’s nest fern). (See .)

[Photograph: ‘Ama‘u]

‘Ēkaha (Asplenium nidus)

Common Name: Bird’s Nest Fern

Indigenous

Family: Aspleniaceae

‘Ēkaha has large, sword-shaped fronds that form rosettes in nest-shaped clusters. The ferns grow to a height of about 3 feet (91 cm) on the ground or in tree branches. Small or young ‘ēkaha ferns are known as ‘ēkahaha.

In ancient Hawai‘i, the black midrib of the ‘ēkaha frond was used to decorate woven mats, and sometimes used to adorn hats made from lau hala, in the same manner as the fronds of the ‘ama‘u tree fern (Sadleria species).

Medicinal preparation to alleviate hānō (asthma) included ‘ēkaha as well as flowers of kī (Cordyline fruticosa, ti) and the starchy pith in the trunk of ‘ama‘u (see ,). ‘Ēkaha grows at elevations up to about 2,500 feet (760 m).

[Photograph: ‘Ēkaha]

Hāhā‘aiakamanu (Clermontia fauriei)

Common Name: Clermontia

Endemic

Family: Campanulaceae—Bellflower Family

Found only at the higher elevations in the mesic (moist) to wet forests of Kaua‘i and O‘ahu, hāhā‘aiakamanu is an endemic lobelia that grows as a tree or small shrub. The plant reaches heights of 6½ to 23 feet (2 to 7 m) with narrow, oblong leaves that are dark green on top and glossy underneath.

The flowers of hāhā‘aiakamanu are purplish-green on the outside and white on the inside, and about 2½ inches (6.5 cm) long. The curved flowers match the shape of the beaks of the Hawaiian birds that pollinate the flowers. Hāhā‘aiakamanu’s orange berries are edible and quite sweet.

Ancient Hawaiians used the thick sap of this plant for bird catching. The plant’s Hawaiian name, hāhā‘aiakamanu, means “food of the birds.” Clermontia fauriei was formerly classified as Clermontia clermontioides, and is a member of the Lobelioideae subfamily of Campanulaceae, the bellflower family, which includes some of the most beautiful flowers in the Hawaiian Islands. (See Ālula, Koli‘i ‘Ōhā, and Pu‘e sections.)

Recent molecular analyses (see Introduction to Native Plants and Ferns of the Hawaiian Islands) have shown that more than 120 uniquely Hawaiian species in the Campanulaceae subfamily Lobelioideae evolved from just one original colonizing species.

Unfortunately, more than 25% of the Lobelioideae species have become extinct since 1778 when Captain Cook first arrived in the Hawaiian Islands beginning the period of Western contact that brought various threats to native Hawaiian species.

The Clermontia genus is named after M. le Marquis de Clermont-Tonnerre, the Minister of the French Navy during the Freycinet Expedition that arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1819. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1819, Aug. 8.)

[Photograph: Clermontia]

Ha‘iwale (Cyrtandra species)

Endemic

Family: Gesneriaceae—African Violet Family

Ha‘iwale is a Hawaiian word that refers to all native Hawaiian species in the Cyrtandra genus, which includes at least 58 endemic Hawaiian species. Ha‘iwale are slender forest shrubs with leathery leaves that are narrow but long. The plants also produce white berries and often showy, white tubular flowers similar to African violets.

The numerous Cyrtandra species in the Hawaiian Islands have significant differences. Crytandra grayi grows mostly on Moloka‘i and Maui, and prefers streamside habitat.

Cyrtandra platyphylla, known for its heart-shaped leaves (platyphylla means “wide leaf”), grows in wet forests of Maui and Hawai‘i Island at elevations from 1,200 to 5,000 feet (370 to 1,525 m), and goes by the Hawaiian name ‘ilihia.

The 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i,[xi] recognizes three newly discovered Cyrtandra species, as well as a rediscovery of a species previously considered extinct (Cyrtandra cyaneoides, also known as māpele), and other classification changes in the Cyrtandra genus.

One species, formerly considered a variety (C. confertiflora var. obovata), is now classified as C. heinrichii, and is found on Kaua‘i in Hanakāpī‘ai Valley as well as near the Wailua River, Nāmolokama Mountain, and the upper Hanakoa Stream.

The newly discovered Cyrtandra species and classification changes increase the 53 endemic species recognized in the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition,[xii] to 58 endemic Cyrtandra species.

Nine Cyrtandra species are federally listed as endangered, along with one species listed as threatened, and some Cyrtandra species are already extinct. The number of Cyrtandra species that are federally listed as endangered is likely to increase when the newly discovered species are considered.

[Photograph: Ha‘iwale (preferably ‘ilihia (Cyrtandra platyphylla)]

Hala (Pandanus tectorius)

Common Name: Screwpine

Indigenous

Family: Pandanaceae—Screw Pine Family

The hala tree may grow up to 33 feet (10 m) tall with a canopy up to 40 feet (12 m) across. The tree is supported by slanting, stilt-like, aerial roots (ulehala) that are known as prop roots because they provide the necessary support for the broad-branched tree.

The aerial roots grow out from the trunk and branches, and then enter the soil, sprouting rootlets and taking hold. In some trees the trunk may be gone, leaving the tree supported completely by prop roots.

Hala grows most commonly in coastal areas, but may be found at elevations up to about 2,000 feet (600 m). At lower elevation habitats the trees provide nesting sites for native seabirds, such as ‘a (Sula sula rubripes, red-footed boobies).

Hala was long thought to have been a Polynesian-introduced species, and not native to the Hawaiian Islands. Then hala fossils dated to more than one million years ago were discovered along Kaua‘i’s north shore, proving that hala is indeed a native Hawaiian plant. However, given the many uses of hala in early Polynesian culture, it is likely that the early settlers also brought the plant with them to the Hawaiian Islands on their voyaging canoes.

The thorny, pointed leaves of hala are known as lau hala, and are spirally arranged on the tree. Lau hala may be 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 m) long and ½ to 3 inches (4 to 8 cm) wide. The leaves tend to bend down at right angles at the midpoint of the leaf.

Fruit of the Hala

The female hala tree bears a roundish flower cluster that develops into an ‘ahui hala (elongated fruit) that looks somewhat like a pineapple. The composite fruit is about 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) long and 4 to 10 inches (10 to 25 cm) in diameter.

One fruit cluster may contain more than 50 angular, wedge-shaped fruitlets called keys, or phalanges, which are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide by 2 inches (5 cm) long. The phalanges are attached to a core known as ‘īkoi hala.

In ancient Hawai‘i, the hala keys were dried and the pua hala (fuzzy fibers on the inner ends) were cleaned with a splinter of ‘ohe (Schizostachyum glaucifolium, bamboo) and then used as brushes to paint kapa (tapa) barkcloth.

For drawing fine lines, the tufts of the fibers were trimmed. This fruit’s woody end (the outer end) is known as iwi hala, and is comprised of four to twelve cells that may be empty or have one nut-like seed, which may be eaten. Ancient Hawaiians ate the fruit of the hala during times of food scarcity.

Ancient Hawaiians distinguished between four different types of hala based upon the color of the tree’s fruit. The most common type has yellow fruit and is simply known as hala. Trees with completely orange-red phalanges are referred to as hala ‘ula, while the phalanges of hala pia are smaller and canary-yellow in color.

The phalanges of hala pia were used medicinally to remove evil spirits. Phalanges of hala lihilihi ‘ula are bright red at the base, fading to orangish-red (or yellowish) further from the base.

An ancient proverb states: “Pala ka hala, momona ka uhu.” (“When the pandanus fruit is ripe, the parrot fish is fat.”), which is explained as, “The sea urchin, a favorite food of the parrotfish, is fat during the season when the pandanus fruit is ripe. Feeding on fat sea urchin, the fish, too, become fat.”[xiii]

 

Lei Hala

Unripe hala fruitlets (keys) were used in ancient times for colorful lei. Lei hala were worn during the Makahiki, an ancient harvest festival, to symbolize the passing of the year’s bad luck and bad habits.

The Makahiki began with the first appearance of the crescent moon following the new moon after the appearance of the constellation Makali‘i (Pleiades) rising in the east after sunset (around the middle of October), and lasted several months.

During the Makahiki, time was taken away from work for feasts, sports games, and other events in honor of Lono, the god of agricultural fertility.

The word hala also means “mistake, slip, or error,” and the hala lei was considered good luck around the time of the Makahiki, when the old year “slips away,” though the lei could be considered unlucky at other times. In post-contact times, hala keys were sometimes strung with the fragrant laua‘e fern (Phymatosorus scolopendria, a post-contact introduction) between the hala keys.

Lau Hala

Lau hala had many uses in ancient Hawai‘i. After the welelau (leaf’s tip) and po‘o lau (base) were cut off and stripped of the kōkala (spines) that grow along the edges, hala’s fibrous leafs were then used to make plaited table and floor mats, baskets, hats, roof lining (thatching), fans, mattresses and containers for gathering pa‘akai (sea salt). Lau hala was also woven into sails for voyaging canoes.

Moena (lau hala mats) were used on the floors of homes thatched with pili grass pili grass (Heteropogon contortus, twisted beardgrass), while plaited lau hala was also used as a finishing layer on the walls.

Other uses for lau hala included: uluna (rectangular pillows); sandals and foot coverings for walking on rough terrain, such as lava; kinipōpō (small balls) used for juggling, and cube-shaped balls that were used to play games.

Finely matted lau hala was used to line the rails of papa hōlua (wooden sleds) down specially constructed tracks. Plaited lau hala was also used to cover the frames of ho‘olele lupe (flying kites).

[Illustration: Plaited hala, mat, container, etc.]

Hīnano—The Male Hala Flower

Female and male hala flowers occur on different trees. The male inflorescence (flower cluster) is known as hīnano, and grows as a spike about 1 foot (30 cm) long. Pointed, overlapping white bracts (modified leaves) surround the spike and cover clusters of tiny flowers.

Bracts of the hīnano were woven into the finest of the ancient mats. Known as moena hīnano, these mats woven from the hala blossoms were used only by ali‘i (chiefs and royalty) and kāhuna (priests and experts in a given profession).

The fragrant yellow flowers of hīnano were used to scent kapa (tapa) barkcloth. The ‘ehu hīnano (flower’s pollen) was considered an aphrodisiac, and was also used by Hawaiians to preserve their items of featherwork, such as feather lei, ‘ahu ‘ula (capes and cloaks) worn by ali‘i, and kāhili, the feather standards that symbolized royalty.

[Illustration: Hīnano]

Other Traditional Uses of Hala

The soft insides of the trunk of the female hala tree may be hollowed out, and were used by early Hawaiians as irrigation pipes that allowed drainage between lo‘i kalo (taro patches). The wood of the male hala tree is harder than the wood of the female hala tree, and was used to create various items, including ‘umeke, or calabashes (bowls and other containers).

Burnt lau hala provided charcoal that was added to paint or stain used on canoes and surfboards. This mixture was often applied using tip of an uleule (aerial hala root), which was beaten on one end to make it into a brush.

The fine fibers of the aerial roots were also used for stringing lei, particularly for kui ‘ilima lei (see Lei Making Methods, Chapter 3), as well as for sewing and tying materials in various other lei.

Medicinal Uses of Hala

Hala also had medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i. The tips of the aerial roots were pounded and mixed with kī (Cordyline fruticosa, ti) and the juice of kō (Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane), and then strained, heated and used as a tonic to relieve pain. The root tips are rich in vitamin B, and were sometimes wrapped in leaves of kī and cooked.

Bracts from the hīnano (the male flower cluster), produced oil that was used medicinally to cure headaches. The inner portions of the hala keys were dried and chewed, and then this mass was given to a child as a treatment for ‘ea (thrush) and other diseases affecting children.

A treatment for chest pain involved combining uleule (hala root tips) with various plants and herbs, including the ripe fruit of noni (Morinda citrifolia, Indian mulberry), taproot bark of pōpolo (Solanum americanum, glossy nightshade); ‘ala‘ala wai nui pehu (Peperomia species); stem bark of ‘ōhi‘a”, thought to refer to ‘ōhi‘a ‘ai (Eugenia malaccense, mountain apple); kō kea (Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane); and older leaves, leaf buds, and flowers, and bark of taproot bark of ‘uhaloa (Waltheria indica); and leaves (possibly) of pā‘ihi (Rorippa sarmentosa, probably a Polynesian introduction, possibly indigenous; recently reclassified from Nasturtium sarmentosum).

Pounded together and strained through ‘ahu‘awa (Cyperus species), this mixture was then heated, cooled, and consumed twice per day.

A medicinal preparation to ease a difficult childbirth involved mashing and straining a mixture of: uleule (hala root tips); the red sedge called kohekohe (Eleocharis species, spikerush); stems of ‘ala‘ala wai nui pehu (Peperomia species); fruit from the red-stemmed sorrel known as ‘ihi mākole (Oxalis corniculata, yellow wood sorrel); flesh of niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut); kō kea (Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane); leaf buds of naio (Myoporum sandwicense, bastard sandalwood); and a marsh pennywort called pohe (Hydrocotyle verticillata).

Hala was also part of a medicinal preparation used to treat hānō (asthma). (See ‘Uhaloa.)

[Photograph: Hala tree]

Hāpu‘u (Cibotium species)

Common Name: Hawaiian Tree Fern

Endemic

Family: Dicksoniaceae

The endemic hāpu‘u is the most common tree fern in the Hawaiian Islands. It may reach heights of more than 20 feet (6 m) with a trunk up to 3 feet (.9 m) in diameter. The actual stem of the trunk may be only 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) in diameter, with the rest of the diameter of the trunk comprised of the interwoven aerial roots.

Hāpu‘u has lacy-looking triangular fronds that may be up to 12 feet (3.7 m) long. The fronds grow on long, thin stems that are brownish in color and smooth. The broad fronds grow in a cluster out from the center of the top of the trunk. The frond is divided into hundreds of tiny segments, known as pinnae, and each frond has a single prominent vein.

Hāpu‘u fronds are dark green on the upper surface but lighter green to whitish on the lower surface. The underside of the frond may be covered with fine hairs, and spore cases (sori) line the edges of the lower surface.

During times of food scarcity in ancient Hawai‘i, the uncoiled fronds of hāpu‘u were sometimes cooked and eaten. Also eaten during times of food scarcity was the starchy pith of the trunk.

The stem’s starch-filled core is enclosed in a hard, black layer sometimes called “wood.” The stem core in older hāpu‘u tree ferns may contain more than 70 pounds (32 kg) of starch.

The pith was harvested by cutting off the top of the plant, removing the hard outer layer from the trunk, wrapping the inner pith in leaves of kī (Cordyline fruticosa, ti), and then baking it in an imu (underground earthen oven).

An ancient proverb states: “He hāpu‘u ka ‘ai he ‘ai make.” (If the hāpu‘u is the food, it is the food of death.”), which is explained to mean, When famine came, many depended on the hāpu‘u to sustain life, but it required much work to prepare. There was the cutting, the preparation of the imu, and three whole days during which the hāpu‘u cooked. If the food was done then, hunger was stayed; if not, there was another long delay, and by that time someone may have starved to death.”[xiv]

The term hāpu‘u refers to four different species that differ in the color and texture of their pulu, the hair that grows at the base of the pepe‘e (young fronds) and over the youngest furled fronds at the bud stems.

Hāpu‘u ‘i‘i (Cibotium. menziesii) produces reddish-brown to blackish pulu that has a stiff coarse texture, while hāpu‘u pulu (C. glaucum) produces a yellowish-brown pulu that is silky and soft. Hāpu‘u ‘i‘i is among the tallest of the endemic Cibotium species, reaching a height of up to 35 feet (10.7 m). C. glaucum is shorter, reaching a height of only about 10 feet (3 m).

Hāpu‘u tree ferns are common in many wet and shady forest areas, particularly on the island of Hawai‘i, but also grow in drier areas and forests of ‘ōhi‘a lehua (Metrosideros species), preferring habitat between 1,000 and 6,000 feet (300 to 1,800 m).

Pulu

Ancient Hawaiians valued the reddish-brown or golden-yellow silky hair grows at the base of the pepe‘e (young fronds). This silky hair, or hāpu‘u pulu, had many uses in ancient Hawai‘i, including as an absorbent for dressing wounds.

Another traditional use of hāpu‘u pulu was a stuffing for embalming the dead. After the brain, tongue, and body organs were removed from the deceased, the spaces were filled tightly with pulu, which absorbed the body fluids. The body openings were then sewed shut.

A body preserved in this way was known as i‘aloa, which means “long fish.” Bodies embalmed with pulu could remain preserved for up to several months.

In the 1800s, a commercial pulu industry developed to take advantage of the market for the soft pulu fibers of hāpu‘u tree ferns. The peak of the pulu industry occurred between 1859 and 1885, when a great deal of pulu was exported for use as stuffing for mattresses and pillows.

Extensive cutting of hāpu‘u tree ferns to get the relatively small amount of pulu threatened the species’ survival. In 1869 alone, more than 300 tons (272 mtons) of pulu were harvested. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1859-1885.)

Other Uses of Hāpu‘u

Ancient Hawaiians used the hāpu‘u trunks, laid horizontally, to create bins that were filled with the fronds and other decaying debris in which seedling yam tubers were planted.

Hāpu‘u was also part of various medicinal preparations in ancient Hawai‘i, including: a formulation used to cleanse the blood (see Pōhuehue); an absorbent used to administer preparations for treating growths in the nose (see and ‘Ōlena sections) and for treating sinus problems (see ‘Ōlena).

For a short time in the 1920s there was a fern-starch industry based near Hilo, and many hāpu‘u tree ferns were cut down for this trunk starch (used for doing laundry). In more recent times, the hāpu‘u tree fern root masses have been used as potting material for orchids.

[Photograph: Hāpu‘u Tree Fern]

Hau (Talipariti tiliaceus)

Indigenous and/or Polynesian-Introduced

Family: Malvaceae—Mallow Family

Hau may grow upright and reach a height of more than 33 feet (10 m), but more commonly it grows crooked and tangled, often forming dense thickets with low spreading branches.

Hau grows in coastal areas, preferring wet habitat, particularly along the banks of streams and near river mouths. Hau also grows inland, and may be found at elevations of more than 4,000 feet (1,200 m).

An ancient proverb states: “Keke‘e hau o Ma‘alo.” (“Crooked are the hau trees of Ma‘alo.”), which is explained to mean,A humorous saying. The hau grove of Ma‘alo, Maui, was known as a place for illicit love affairs.”[xv]

Hau’s heart-shaped leaves are large and rounded. The leaves are about 3 to 8 inches (8 to 20 cm) long and 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) wide, and smooth on top but coated with fine, matted hairs underneath, giving them a whitish appearance.

Hau’s plenteous, hibiscus-like flowers are 1½ to 3 inches (4 to 8 cm) long, spreading out from a tubular base. The hau flower has a bright yellow corolla (rarely whitish) that forms a cup, usually with a dark purplish, red or maroon “eye” in the center of the flower petals. The mouth of the flower may be up to 5 inches (13 cm) across.

Blossoming at or near the branch ends, hau flowers bloom yellow in the morning, turning to orange and then a mahogany red color later in the day. Then within about one day the flowers turn green to brown and fall off, though the ovary and calyx remain on the tree. Hau’s fruiting capsules are ovoid in shape, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, and divided into five valves that each hold three smooth seeds.

Hau may be indigenous, or may have been brought to the Hawaiian Islands by the early Polynesian settlers of the Hawaiian Islands. It has been shown that hau seeds are readily dispersed by seawater, and may retain their ability to grow even after being at sea for several months.

Even if hau is native, it was likely also brought to the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians, as it had many important uses in ancient Hawaiian culture.

Traditional Uses of Hau

In pre-contact Hawai‘i, hau and olonā (Touchardia latifolia) were the primary plants providing kae, the bast fibers that were spun into satiny twine, cordage and rope with many uses in Hawaiian culture. (See Ōlonā.) Hau was also used to make kapa (tapa) barkcloth, although wauke (Broussonetia papyrifera, paper mulberry) was generally preferred.

While the more common variety of hau often grows crooked in tangled thickets near the ground, a less common variety, known as hau oheohe grows straighter and was preferred for bast fibers. Hau fibers used for cordage came from plant’s inner bark, though using all of the bark also made a strong rope. For a finer grade cordage the outer bark was removed and just the inner bark was used.

Ancient Hawaiians used hau cord for the lashings on sailing canoes and for fishnets as well as shark nets. Hau fibers were also used for stringing, tying and sewing lei.

Another use of hau fibers was for the cord attached to the oeoe, or bull-roarer, a musical instrument made from the seed of kamani (Calophyllum inophyllum, Alexandrian laurel). (See Kamani.)

Ancient Hawaiians (especially the young) also made various hei (string figures) using string looped around the fingers, and this string was usually made from hau bast. Many of these string figures were associated with chants that described the shapes. At least 115 different string figures were produced.

Hau bast was also used to produce ma‘a, or slings, used to hurl stones. The ma‘a consisted of hau bast plaited into a pouch, with three of the plies left longer and braided into the cords that were held onto during the act of slinging the basalt sling stones, known as ‘ala o ka ma‘a. These stones were often polished.

The wood of hau was used for fishnet floats and for the railings of canoes. Hau’s lightness and strength also made it the preferred wood for the ‘iako (booms) for canoes, which were made from two naturally curved hau branches often acquired from a hot, dry area where the most dense, and thus strongest hau trees grew.

Heat was sometimes used to bend the branches to the proper shape. The canoe’s booms were attached to an ama (outrigger float), which also might be constructed from hau, though wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis, coral tree) was usually used.

Because hau is light and strong, its wood was also used to start fires. This was done by rapidly rotating the harder wood of olomea (Perrottia sandwicensis) to create friction against the softer hau wood. The roughly pointed hardwood (e.g., olomea) used in this fire making process is known as ‘au lima, while the soft wood (e.g., hau) is known as ‘aunaki.

Hau branches placed along a shoreline were a sign that fishing was kapu (forbidden). Hau wood was also used, along with pāpala (Charpentiera species), for the ‘ōahi (fire throwing) ceremony on Kaua‘i’s north shore.

The wood was lit on fire and thrown off the ocean cliffs, making a spectacular sight as it was blown over the ocean by the strong seaward winds. (See Pāpala section for more information on the ‘ōahi ceremony).

Hau’s light, flexible wood was used to construct the frames for ho‘olele lupe (flying kites), which were then covered with kapa barkcloth or plaited lau hala and flown on a cord made from olonā (Touchardia latifolia). Hau wood was also used to make lightweight ihe (spears) for practicing ‘ō‘ō ihe (spear throwing).

A branch of hau was also a symbol of war between opposing warriors. During battles in ancient Hawai‘i, a kahuna (priest) from each opposing side would venture ahead of the armies and place a hau branch into the ground.

This branch was referred to as mīhau, and was respected by each side as a symbol of impending victory until one side persevered at which point the other side would allow their mīhau to fall.

Medicinal Uses of Hau

The flowers and sap of hau also had medicinal uses. One use of the flower buds was to alleviate constipation, though for people older than about two years, the flower buds of pūwahanui (a medicinal plant of unknown identity) were preferred.

Another formulation to treat constipation was prepared by using the shell of an ‘opihi (Cellana species) to scrape the hau’s inner bark. The resulting material was mixed with water and then after some time strained through ‘ahu‘awa (Cyperus javanicus).

Chest congestion was treated with a mixture made from sap scraped from the hau’s inner bark that was mixed with slimy sap from young fronds of ferns such as kikawaiō (Christella cyatheoides), and possibly ‘iwa‘iwa (Asplenium species) or ‘uwī‘uwī (Conyza species).

This preparation was mixed with water and then strained through stems of ‘ahu‘awa (Cyperus javanicus). Added to this was a liquid obtained by mashing root bark of pōpolo (Solanum americanum, glossy nightshade) and ‘uhaloa (Waltheria indica) and straining it through a mesh made from niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut palm). This medicinal treatment was followed by drinking tea made from ko‘oko‘olau (Bidens species).

The sap of hau’s inner bark was also used to facilitate labor in women and ease their labor pains (see ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua). To alleviate a dry throat or congestion, the young leaf buds of the hau were chewed.

Hau had various other medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i, including as part of a treatment for chest pains (see Mai‘a); a preparation used as an enema (see Noni); a treatment for constipation (see Mai‘a); and a preparation that helped a person sleep (see ‘Uala).

[Photograph: Hau]

Hinahina (Heliotropium anomalum var. argenteum)

Endemic

Family: Boraginaceae—Borage Family

A native heliotrope, hinahina is a low-growing perennial plant that grows on the beach above the high water line. Also known by the Hawaiian name of hinahina kū kahakai (kahakai means “beach”), hinahina is commonly found in tidal zones and sandy coastal areas. The seeds of hinahina are very saltwater-tolerant.

Hinahina means “white-haired,” or “gray,” likely referring to the plant’s slender leaves, which are about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) long and relatively thick, though not fleshy, and sometimes widening near the tip. Hinahina stems and leaves are covered with tiny white hairs that give them a silver appearance.

Hinahina also has fragrant, 5- or 6-lobed flowers that are white (sometimes purplish) in color, with yellow centers. The corolla is about ¼-inch (6 mm) long. The flowers grow up from the plant on spikes, ending in forked stalks.

The leaves and flowers of hinahina are used in lei, and may be twisted into open-ended garlands. Hinahina is the designated emblem of the island of Kaho‘olawe. (See Island Emblems, Chapter 3.) The plant was decimated by goats introduced to Kaho‘olawe but replanting efforts have helped re-establish the native species on the island.

In ancient Hawai‘i, hinahina leaves were used to make tea, particularly when koko‘olau (Bidens species) was not available. Hinahina also had medicinal uses in ancient times including as part of a treatment for ‘ea (thrush) (see ‘Ōhi‘a ‘Ai); hānō (asthma) (see ‘Uala); and for consumption (see Pōhuehue).

[Photograph: Hinahina]

Hoi Kuahiwi (Smilax melastomifolia)

Common Name: Hawaiian Greenbrier

Endemic

Family: Smilacaceae—Catbrier Family

Hoi kuahiwi has cordate (heart-shaped) to ovate, shiny leathery leaves with longitudinal veins. The plant also bears small flowers in the leaf axils, and berries that are less than ½-inch (13 mm) in diameter.

A woody vine, hoi kuahiwi prefers mesic (moist) to wet forest habitat up to about 6,900 feet (2,100 m). The plant has tuberous rhizomes, which reportedly were eaten by ancient Hawaiians during times of food scarcity.

[Photograph: Hoi Kuahiwi]

Hō‘i‘o Fern (Diplazium sandwichianum)

Common Name: Fiddlehead Fern

Endemic

Family: Athyriaceae

Hō‘i‘o ferns are relatively abundant, mostly growing at higher elevations in mountain habitat from 2,000 to 6,000 feet (610 to 1,825 m). The subdivided fronds may reach a length of more than 5 feet (1.5 m).

There are two endemic species in the Hawaiian Islands referred to as hō‘i‘o: D. sandwichianum and D. molokaiense (an endangered species). Hō‘i‘o is distinguished from the similar looking Dryopteris glabra by the arrangement of the sori (spore capsules), which appear in round clusters on Dryopteris glabra, but are arranged in a chevron pattern on the fronds of hō‘i‘o.

Traditional Uses

Ancient Hawaiians ate the hō‘i‘o’s pepe‘e (young coiled fronds), which are commonly known as fiddleheads. The young, tightly-coiled fronds were eaten with raw ‘ōpae (Macrobrachium grandimanus, Halocaridina rubra; fresh water shrimp).

Hō‘i‘o ferns were also eaten with poi. An ancient proverb states: “Ka i‘a lauoho loloa o ka ‘āina.” (“The long-haired fish of the land.”), referring to “...any vegetable eaten with poi, such as taro greens, ho‘i‘o or kikawaiō ferns, or sweet potato greens. Poetically, leaves are the oho or lauoho, hair, of plants.”[xvi]

The Legend of the Piliwale Sisters

One Hawaiian legend tells of how Lohi‘au, a chief of Hā‘ena on Kaua‘i named Lohi‘au devised a plan with his sister Kahua-nui to stop the Piliwale sisters, who were unwelcome guests with insatiable appetites.

They knew that the Piliwale sisters would turn to stone if they were ever touched by the rays of the sun, so Lohi‘au and Kahua-nui enticed two of the four sisters to the top of the mountain and entertained them with hula and an elaborate feast, with the last course consisting of the irresistible favorites of hō‘i‘o and ‘ōpae.

Dawn arrived and the sisters ran down the mountain for their cave, but they were halted along the way when the sunlight touched them and turned them to stone. The silhouettes of the sisters are still visible today along the ridge of the mountain.

[Photograph: Hō‘i‘o]

‘Ie‘ie (Freycinetia arborea)

Endemic

Family: Pandanaceae—Screw Pine Family

‘Ie‘ie is a climbing vine with long, narrow, spiny leaves that are about 2 inches (5 cm) wide at the base, and up to 2½ feet (76 cm) long, coming to a point. The plant also bears yellowish flowers on clustered, cylindrical spikes that rise from the leaf cluster.

The spikes are about ½-inch (13 mm) in diameter and about five inches (13 cm) long, surrounded by a protective tuft of leaf-like edible bracts (modified leaves) that may be apricot-orange to pink or green on the bottom surface of the bract. When bats or birds pollinate the plant, thick cylindrical orange fruits develop as spikes, with numerous seeds.

‘Ie‘ie is a cousin of hala, and prefers wet habitat at middle elevations from 1,000 to 4,500 feet (300 to 1,370 m). Strong aerial roots of ‘ie‘ie grow out from the stem, and may be as long as 20 feet (6 m), sometimes reaching the ground and entering the soil.

In ancient Hawai‘i, the aerial roots of ‘ie‘ie were sometimes used for bird catching, and the sword-like leaves were said to embody the eternal spirit of the beautiful young Lauka‘ie‘ie, whose name means, “Leaf of the ‘ie‘ie.”

An ancient proverb states: “E ‘imi wale no i ka lua o ka ‘uwa‘u ‘a‘ole e loa‘a.” (Seek as you will the burrow of the ‘uwa‘u, it cannot be found.”), which is explained to mean, “A boast of one’s skill in lua fighting, of the depth of one’s knowledge, or of a skill that isn’t easily acquired. A play on lua, a burrow, a pit, or an art of fighting. The burrow of the ‘uwa‘u bird is often deep. Birdcatchers inserted a piece of aerial root of the ‘ie‘ie, gummed at one end, to catch the fledglings.”[xvii]

The aerial roots of ‘ie‘ie were used in ancient Hawai‘i to make the base cap for the crested helmet (mahiole) worn by Hawaiian royalty. When making a mahiole, first the bark was removed from the ‘ie‘ie roots and the roots were split and soaked.

The roots were then weaved and twined together to provide the base of the mahiole, to which the fine-mesh netting holding the feathers was attached.

These crested helmets were unique to the Hawaiian Islands, and beautifully adorned with the colorful feathers of ‘i‘iwi (Vestiaria coccinea), ‘ō‘ō (Moho species), mamo (Drepanis pacifica), and other birds.

‘Ie‘ie, along with lama (Diospyros species, ebony), ‘a‘ali‘i (Dodonaea viscosa, Hawaiian hopseed bush), and maile (Alyxia oliviformis) are considered sacred to the hula goddess Laka, and in ancient Hawai‘i these plants were placed on the hula altar in her honor.

‘Ie‘ie is also a food source for native birds, including the Kaua‘i ‘akialoa (Hemignathus procerus) which uses its long curved beak to sip honey from the base of the leaves of ‘ie‘ie as well as hala pepe (Pleomele species). ‘Ie‘ie is also a food source for the ‘alalā (Horvus hawaiiensis, Hawaiian crow).

‘Ie‘ie was used as part of the ceremonial preparations for making a canoe. A piece of the vine was tied around the fallen koa tree at the point where it was to be cut by the canoe makers. The aerial roots of ‘ie‘ie with the bark removed were also used to make hīna‘i (fish traps), and were used in the construction of various musical instruments.

Split aerial ‘ie‘ie roots were also used in the construction of akua hulu (feathered gods) and were used with lama (Diospyros species, ebony) to construct underwater fish traps. (See Lama.)

The baskets that ancient Hawaiians made from the roots of ‘ie‘ie are considered the finest in all of Polynesia. Known as ‘ie, these twined baskets were made starting at the bottom center and working outward and upward to complete the basket.

[Illustration: Twined basket made from roots of ‘ie‘ie]

[Photograph: ‘Ie‘ie]

‘Iliahi (Santalum species)

Common Name: Sandalwood Tree

Endemic (four species)

Family: Santalaceae—Sandalwood Family

In Hawaiian, ‘ili ahi means “fiery surface.” The Hawaiian name for the sandalwood tree, ‘iliahi, refers to the tree’s reddish blooms and new leaves. Sandalwood also produces small purple fruits.

Sandalwood trees may be up to 65 feet (19 m) tall, with small leathery leaves that are glossy, dark to pale green, or green-blue, and about 4 inches (10 cm) long, though sometimes shorter and thicker, and elliptical in shape. ‘Iliahi flowers may be green, yellow, pale red or magenta. The flowers grow in clusters that are often pleasantly scented, and sometimes used in lei.

Before the intense logging of sandalwood trees in the early 1800s, the Hawaiian Islands had extensive sandalwood groves in the mountains. Four endemic Hawaiian sandalwood species (and numerous varieties) are currently recognized, including S. ellipticum, S. freycinetianum, S. haleakalae, and S. paniculatum.

S. ellipticum grows from 3 to 16 feet (1 to 5 m) tall, prefers dry coastal habitats, and is known by its Hawaiian name ‘iliahialo‘e, or its common name, coast sandalwood. (See ‘Iliahialo‘e).

S. freycinetianum, the variety that was most desired for harvest in the sandalwood trade, may reach heights of more than 43 feet (13 m), growing in moist to wet forest habitat below about 3,300 feet (1,000 m) on Maui, Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.

S. haleakalae grows to between 7 and 13 feet (2 to 4 m) tall on the upper slopes of Maui’s Haleakalā Volcano in alpine shrubland. S. paniculatum may reach heights of more than 65 feet (19 m), growing on the island of Hawai‘i in dry woodlands (on lava flows or cinder cones) and also in the island’s wetter forests, at elevations from 1,500 to 6,500 feet (450 to 2,000 m).

The drupe-like flowers of S. haleakalae and S. freycinetianum have abundant nectar and reddish corollas, while S. paniculatum and S. ellipticum flowers do not have nectar, and have greenish corollas that turn yellowish-brown or orange (sometimes salmon-colored).

The flowers form in the leaf axils or in panicles (branched inflorescences, or flower clusters) at the branch ends. The roots of the sandalwood tree have special structures that are able to extract nutrients from nearby plants.

Though parasitic, the sandalwood tree won’t kill the host plant, which might be koa (Acacia koa), koai‘a (Acacia koaia), ‘ilima (Sida fallax), ‘ohai (Sesbania tomentosa), ‘ohi‘a lehua (Metrosideros species), or other native plants.

Traditional Uses of Sandalwood

While four species of sandalwood are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, the sandalwood tree also grows in other parts of the world. The Chinese have traditionally valued the close-grained fine-smelling sandalwood for making fine furniture, boxes, chests and carvings, as well as perfume and incense.

The older trees are the most valued due to their increased fragrance (the scent increases with age). In young trees, only the roots and heartwood of the tree are scented. The Hawaiian word for the ‘iliahi heartwood is lā‘au‘ala, which means “fragrant wood” or “sweet wood.”

[Illustration: Sandalwood box or other items]

Traditional Hawaiian uses of sandalwood included placing powdered sandalwood between layers of kapa (tapa) barkcloth to impart the sweet fragrance to the cloth, or using hot stones to heat a mixture of ‘iliahi and the oil of niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut palm), and then adding the mixture to kapa dyes. Sandalwood also had various medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i, including as part of a treatment to sooth the pains of aching joints (see ‘Awaphuhi Kuahiwi).

The wood of ‘iliahi was used for the construction of musical instruments, including the ‘ūkēkē, a wooden bow about 1½ inches (4 cm) wide and 16 to 24 inches (40 to 60 cm) long with three strings (sometimes two).

The ‘ūkēkē was the only stringed instrument of ancient Hawai‘i. The strings of the ‘ūkēkē are strummed while the player’s mouth is used as a resonance chamber. The ‘ūkēkē produces a speech-like sound, although no noise is made by the player’s vocal cords.

The Sandalwood Trade

A New England ship captain (a fur trader) visiting Kaua‘i in 1791, Captain John Kendrick (c.17401794) of Boston, traded some of his goods for a load of firewood that contained some wood of the fragrant sandalwood tree.

It was soon discovered that sandalwood could be sold for a high price in Canton, China, and it was then that the Hawaiian sandalwood trade began. China, which had previously obtained all their sandalwood from an East Indian species, created a nearly insatiable market for the fragrant sandalwood.

In 1806, a Boston trading ship named the O’Cain, under the command of Jonathan Winship, arrived in the Hawaiian Islands. The chief mate of the ship was Jonathan’s brother, Nathan Winship.

The brothers returned to the Hawaiian Islands in October of that year, and then in the spring of 1810, Nathan returned again as captain of the Albatross. Nathan Winship transported Kaua‘i’s ruler, Kamuali‘i, to O‘ahu so that Kamuali‘i could cede his land over to King Kamehameha I at the death of Kamuali‘i, thus finally uniting all of the Hawaiian Islands under one ruler. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1810.)

In the winter of 1811, the two brothers returned to O‘ahu, Jonathan Winship on the O‘Cain and Nathan Winship on the Albatross. They took away a load of sandalwood, and when King Kamehameha I was happy with his profits, he granted the Winships (along with Captain William Davis) an exclusive ten-year contract for sales of sandalwood on all the Hawaiian Islands except Kaua‘i.

The two brothers became pioneers in the Hawaiian Islands’ sandalwood trade. The contract was cancelled after their 1813 voyage, however, due to the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States.

In 1816 the Winships returned to Boston. Sandalwood remained a primary source of income in the Hawaiian Islands for the next 15 years. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1791; 1806; 1810-1820 for more information about the sandalwood trade.)

Consequences of the Sandalwood Trade

During the peak years of the sandalwood trade (1810-1840), maka‘āinana (commoners) were forced by the ali‘i (chiefs) to climb high in the mountains to cut down the tall trees.

Carrying the wood down from the mountains was hard work, and sandalwood harvesting occurred at the expense of the lo‘i kalo (taro patches) and other traditional agricultural food production and cultural practices. Sandalwood traders supplied the Hawaiian chiefs with clothes, furniture, liquor and other goods, eroding away at customary ways of native life.

The sandalwood forests of the Hawaiian Islands were logged at a rapid pace to meet China’s growing market, and this eventually exhausted the supply. Between 1810 and 1820, sandalwood sold for about $125/ton, generating more than three million dollars. By 1840, nearly all of sandalwood trees of marketable size in the Hawaiian Islands had been cut down.

Endangered Status

Despite the extensive harvesting of all marketable sandalwood trees in the past, just one ‘iliahi variety, S. freycinetianum variety lanaiense, is currently listed as an endangered species in danger of becoming extinct.

Less than a few hundred Santalum freycinetianum variety lanaiense remain in the wild, growing only in some scattered locations on Maui and Lāna‘i. A main threat to the species is caused by habitat damage due to introduced mammals (goats, deer, and Mouflon sheep).

Another hindrance to ‘iliahi reproduction comes from introduced rats, which feed on the fruits of the trees.

[Photograph: Sandalwood Tree]

‘Iliahialo‘e (Santalum ellipticum)

Common Name: Coast Sandalwood

Endemic

Family: Santalaceae—Sandalwood Family

‘Iliahialo‘e is a low-growing coastal shrub to small tree, growing from 3 to 16 feet (1 to 5 m) tall, with gray-green leaves that grow opposite one another. The leaves may be succulent or more leathery, and are elliptic in shape, about 1½ inches (4 cm) long and just over 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. ‘Iliahialo‘e also produces small flowers with four sepals.

‘Iliahialo‘e’s fragrant flowers bloom in panicles (branched inflorescences, or flower clusters) at the branch tips or leaf axils, and are yellowish-green in color, tinted with brown or orange after opening. The green immature fruit of ‘iliahialo‘e turns red and then dark blue-purple to black as it ripens.

‘Iliahialo‘e prefers relatively dry, coastal habitats, including forest and shrubland areas, as well as rocky ‘a‘ā lava flow areas. Trees nearer to the coast tend to have more succulent leaves, and formerly have been classified as S. ellipticum var. littorale. (See ‘Iliahi.)

[Photograph: ‘Iliahialo‘e]

Iliau (Wilkesia gymnoxiphium)

Endemic

Family: Asteraceae—Sunflower Family

Iliau is an erect, usually unbranched plant with a tall, hollow stem that produces a tuft of about 9 to 15 narrow, sword-shaped leaves that are about 6 to 19½ inches (15 to 50 cm) long. When iliau matures, a flower stalk rises up from its center. From this central flower stalk, which may be from 3 to 10 feet (.9 to 3 m) tall, there emerges a spectacular floral display of hundreds of slightly fragrant, yellow to cream-colored, daisy-like flowers.

In the evening hours the iliau plant (not the flowers) may give off a ginger flower-like scent. The sticky flowers are arranged in whorls around the stalks creating a fountainous bloom containing from 40 to more than 350 flowers. Iliau usually blooms from May to July. After blooming, the plant dies.

The genus Wilkesia is represented in the Hawaiian Islands by two species: iliau (W. gymnoxiphium) and dwarf iliau (W. hobdyi). Both species are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, and dwarf iliau is extremely endangered. Dwarf iliau reaches a height of about 2-1/3 feet (70 cm), while iliau may reach a height of more than 16 feet (5 m).

Iliau is a relative of ‘āhinahina (silversword) (see ‘Āhinahina section), and prefers relatively dry to mesic (moist) forest habitat and may grow on ridges and other open areas from about 1,400 to 3,600 feet (425 to 1,100 m).

Iliau grows along Kaua‘i’s Waimea Canyon Rim Trail as well as at Limahuli National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kaua‘i’s north shore.

[Photograph: Iliau]

‘Ilima (Sida fallax)

Indigenous

Family: Malvaceae—Mallow Family

Iliau grows most commonly in coastal areas, and is a low-lying plant that may reach heights of more than 5 feet (1.5 m), with trailing branches and light green leaves.

‘Ilima’s leaves are heart-shaped or oblong, and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long with serrated margins. The tissue paper-thin flowers of ‘ilima are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter with five petals, and vary in color from light to deep yellow, orange, greenish, dull red or copper-colored, occurring in groups of one to three near the branch tips.

A whitish down covers both the plant’s leaves and the wheel-like seed cases. ‘Ilima’s seed cases may have from seven to twelve spokes, with each compartment containing a single seed.

‘Ilima grows in a variety of habitats up to about 6,500 feet (1,980 m), from coastal areas to lava fields, from dry to mesic (moist) forest areas, and in some wetter forests at low elevations. ‘Ilima blossoms year round, particularly during summer.

‘Ilima Lei

‘Ilima lei, often mentioned in Hawaiian legends, were traditionally woven for ancient royalty. The ‘ilima lei is the official emblem of the island of O‘ahu. Traditionally used on the ends of the ‘ilima lei were the soft, green fruit of ma‘o (Abutilon grandifolium, hairy abutilon), or the ‘ilima flower’s cap-like calyx.

The Hawaiian goddess associated with lei making is Kukuena, whose daughter Laka may take the form of ‘ilima. ‘Ilima was also the flower lei worn by the goddess Hina when, with the help of the god Māui, she escaped from the cave of the monster eel Kuna Loa.

The ‘ilima is a popular lei flower in the Hawaiian Islands today, just as it was in ancient Hawai‘i. Stringing a single ‘ilima lei may take 700 to 1,000 or more ‘ilima flowers. The domesticated form of ‘ilima is known as ‘ilima lei, and is the most common variety used in lei.

It has been widely reported that ‘ilima lei were reserved for the upper class, or ali‘i (chiefs and royalty) in ancient Hawai‘i, but other accounts state that ‘ilima was utilized more widely as a lei flower. ‘Ilima blossoms are sometimes interwoven with maile.

Medicinal Uses of ‘Ilima

‘Ilima had numerous medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i. The flower buds were sometimes pre-chewed and then given to children as a mild laxative. The root bark was pounded together with other plants and consumed as a tonic if one felt weak or if one was affected by asthma.

The juice of ‘ilima flowers, used medicinally, is known as kanakamaika‘i, a term that literally means “good person.”

Various treatments for children’s diseases included parts of ‘ilima. In one preparation the taproot of ‘ilima was mashed with: leaf buds and flowers of ‘ala‘ala wai nui pehu (Peperomia species), a native forest herb; ‘uhaloa (Waltheria indica); leaves of pōpolo (Solanum americanum, glossy nightshade); ripe fruit of noni (Morinda citrifolia, Indian mulberry); along with kō kea (Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane), which was one of the most preferred native sugarcane varieties for medicinal uses.

Children consumed the resulting liquid as a treatment for thrush, or ‘ea, a general term for infectious diseases, a sore throat, and other ailments.

A treatment for hānō (asthma) utilized the bark of the ‘ilima taproot, along with ‘ilima flowers and leaf buds. This was mashed and pounded together with kō kea (Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane) and pūkāmole (Lythrum maritimum, a post-contact introduction), and then squeezed to produce a liquid that was strained into a calabash and heated, then cooled and consumed twice a day for five days.

A pregnant mother might chew and swallow ‘ilima flowers to ease the pains of childbirth. Sap squeezed from ‘ilima flowers was used as a gentle laxative for babies.

The domesticated form of ‘ilima is known as ‘ilima lei, and is the most common variety used in lei. Other ‘ilima varieties grow in various Hawaiian habitats, including ‘ilima kū kahakai (which grows in sandy areas), ‘ilima makana‘ā (which grows on lava beds), ‘ilima papa (also called ‘ilima kū kula, which means “‘ilima standing on plains”), and ‘ilima kuahiwi.

Domesticated varieties of ‘ilima include the light yellow ‘ilima ōkea, and ‘ilima koli kukui, with rare red-bronze flowers. (See Lei Flowers section in Chapter 3 for more information about ‘ilima.)

[Photograph: ‘Ilima]

‘Iwa‘iwa (Adiantum, Asplenium, Doryopteris)

‘Iwa‘iwa is the Hawaiian term for several different ferns in three different genera, including Adiantum, Asplenium, Doryopteris. Each is treated here separately. ‘Iwa‘iwa had medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i, including as part of a treatment for chest congestion (see Hau).

Adiantum Species—Maidenhair Ferns

Family: Pteridaceae

Indigenous

‘Iwa‘iwa is the Hawaiian term for all maidenhair ferns (Adiantum species). Maidenhair ferns are usually shiny and slender.

‘Iwa‘iwa ‘āpi‘ipi‘i (Adiantum tenerum f. farleyense) is known as the curly maidenhair (‘āpi‘ipi‘i means “curly”), a fern that is sometimes grown ornamentally.

Adiantum capillus-veneris is also known as ‘iwa‘iwa hāwai, or the Venus-hair fern, and has bright green fronds that are subdivided into numerous fan-shaped divisions. The fronds are about 16 inches (40 cm) long and the individual leaves are about ¾-inch (19 mm) wide, with rectangular spore pockets (sori).

The shiny black stalks of the Venus-hair fern were used by ancient Hawaiians to create decorative designs in the plaiting of lau hala mats. Venus hair ferns prefer wet conditions below 2,000 feet (600 m), including areas exposed to salt spray.

A similar species, Adiantum raddianum, with round sori, is a post-contact introduction known as the common maidenhair, and also referred to by the Hawaiian term ‘iwa‘iwa.

[Photograph: Venus-hair fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris]

Asplenium Species

Family: Aspleniaceae

Indigenous; Endemic

‘Iwa‘iwa also refers to Asplenium adiantum-nigrum, a small indigenous fern that prefers higher elevations. Asplenium adiantum-nigrum has brown, shiny stems and stiff ovate or triangular, subdivided fronds.

The glossy, dark stalk of A. adiantum-nigrum is dark brown at the base changing to a greenish color higher on the frond. A. adiantum-nigrum fronds are subdivided (two divisions) and reach a height of about 16 inches (41 cm) with spores arranged in a chevron pattern. The fern prefers dry forest habitat as well as lava flow areas from 2,000 to 8,000 feet (610 to 2,440 m).

‘Iwa‘iwa-a-Kāne (Asplenium rhipodoneuron) is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, and has feather-shaped fronds that are narrow, stiff, dark green, and about 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm) in length.

Also endemic to the Hawaiian Islands is ‘iwa‘iwa lau nui (Tectaria gaudichaudii), in the scientific family Dryopteridaceae. ‘Iwa‘iwa lau nui has dark green, triangular-shaped fronds that are from 12 to 47 inches (30 cm to 1.2 m) in length (lau nui means “large leafed”).

The fern also likely shares the ‘iwa‘iwa name due to its dark, wiry stalk. ‘Iwa‘iwa lau nui prefers wet, shady habitat at elevations up to about 6,000 feet (1,830 m).

Asplenium ferns are also referred to as spleenwort ferns because they have been used to treat spleen disorders.

[Photograph: Asplenium adiantum-nigrum]

Doryopteris species

Family: Pteridaceae

Endemic

‘Iwa‘iwa also refers to species in the genus Doryopteris, which are ferns that grow to about 15 inches (38 cm) high, with inverted, heart-shaped fronds separated into long segments.

This fern also prefers exposed and rocky areas at elevations from 500 to 3,000 feet (150 to 915 m). They are also referred to by the Hawaiian term manawahua. Varieties of Doryopteris include D. angelica D. decipiens and D. decora.

[Photograph: Doryopteris]

Kā‘e‘e (Mucuna gigantea subsp. gigantea)

Common Name: Sea Bean

Indigenous

Family: Fabaceae—Pea Family

Kā‘e‘e is a high-growing, woody vine that usually reaches lengths of about 26 to 49 feet (8 to 15 m) but may measure more than 260 feet (80 m). Kā‘e‘e has ovate leaflets that are about 1½ to 5 inches (4 to 13 cm) long and 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 cm) wide.

The plant also produces green, yellow, yellowish-green, chartreuse or red flowers that are usually just less than 2 inches (5 cm) long, hanging in a cluster that is about 5 inches (13 cm) long on a long stem.

The large, oblong, dark brown seedpods of kā‘e‘e are about 4 inches (10 cm) long and covered with stinging orangish-brown hairs that may be extremely unpleasant and irritating to the skin and eyes.

The seedpods hold from one to four (usually two or three) round, flattened seeds, called pēka‘a. Each seed is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and about 1/3-inch (8 mm) thick. The seeds vary in color from light to dark brown, often mottled or streaked with black. A black band rings the seed for about three-quarters of the way around the outside.

The seeds were used in ancient Hawai‘i for medicinal purposes, and were sometimes combined with other ingredients. A preparation made with taro corm (see Kalo) and the flesh of kā‘e‘e bean pods was used as a purgative that was said to be extremely strong.

Kā‘e‘e seeds were also strung into lei (see Kā‘e‘e in Seed Lei section, Chapter 3) and continue to be used for seed lei today. Keep an eye out for them while walking along Hawaiian beaches, especially near river mouths, as the seedpods commonly wash up on shore, providing a nice surprise to the casual beachcomber.

Kā‘e‘e grows from sea level to elevations of about 1,000 feet (300 m), often over shrubs, trees, and rocky areas near streams or near the ocean.

In the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition,[xviii] this indigenous Hawaiian plant was classified as the species Mucuna gigantea. An update in the 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i[xix] reclassified the Hawaiian plant as the subspecies Mucuna gigantea subspecies gigantea.

[Photograph: Kā‘e‘e]

Kāpana (Phyllostegia grandiflora)

Endemic

Family: Lamiaceae—Mint Family

Kāpana is an endemic forest herb, resembling the typical mint with a square stem and lipped flowers, but kāpana lacks the minty fragrance. The plant has paired ovate leaves that are about 3.5 to 6.5 inches (9 to 16 cm) long and 1.2 to 2.5 inches (3 to 6.5 cm) wide.

Kāpana has fragrant, white flowers that are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. The flowers have a slightly curved tube that may show almost translucent-appearing pinkish colors.

Kāpana is a rainforest mint that prefers wet mid-elevation habitat, including montane forests and cloudy summits, from about 1,000 to 3,900 feet (300 to 1,200 m).

[Photograph: Kāpana]

Kauna‘oa (Cuscuta sandwichiana)

Common Name: Hawaiian Dodder

Endemic

Family: Cuscutaceae—Dodder Family

Kauna‘oa is a wiry, thread-like, golden-orange to yellow-orange vine that twists and wraps around other plants. The kauna‘oa vine also has tiny round fruit capsules that hold small seeds, which are dark red in color. The plant’s tiny flowers are pointed, 5-lobed, and yellowish in color.

Kauna‘oa’s scientific genus name, Cuscuta, derives from the Greek kusku, which translates to “tangled twist of hair,” aptly describing the plant’s appearance.

Its species name, sandwichiana, refers to the Sandwich Islands, the original name given to the Hawaiian Islands by British Captain James Cook in honor of his patron, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Earl of Sandwich. Kauna‘oa is the official emblem of Lāna‘i (see Island Emblems, Chapter 3).

Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, kauna‘oa grows most commonly in coastal areas, though the plant is also found at elevations up to about 1,000 feet (300 m).

Kauna‘o is not green, and doesn’t need to photosynthesize because it gets its chlorophyll from other plants through sucker-like roots called haustoria. Kauna‘oa first roots in the ground and then attaches to other plants, parasitically thriving on the host plant.

Young kauna‘oa plants have small roots but these disintegrate as the plant matures, and then the plant survives completely off its host plant.

Host plants for kauna‘oa include āheahea (Chenopodium oahunense), pōhuehue (Ipomoea pes-caprae subspecies brasiliensis, beach morning glory), ‘uhaloa (Waltheria indica), ‘a‘ali‘i (Dodonaea viscosa, Hawaiian hopseed bush), pōhinahina (Vitex rotundifolia, beach vitex), kukui (Aleurites moluccana, candlenut) and others.

An ancient proverb states: “Kauna‘oa pālaha kukui o Kameha‘ikana” (The kauna‘oa that spreads and flattens the kukui foliage of Kameha‘ikana.”), which was “said of kauna‘oa mālolo, which grows so thickly in some places that it covers the leaves of kukui and other trees.”[xx]

The stringy stems of kauna‘oa are often braided together into strands for orange-colored lei, as was done by ancient Hawaiians. (See Kauna‘oa in Island Flowers and Lei section, Chapter 3.) The kauna‘oa vine is said to be a gift from Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes, who brought the plant to the Hawaiian Islands.

Ancient Hawaiians also had medicinal uses for kauna‘oa. A treatment for chest colds involved drinking a strained mash that included kauna‘oa, buds of kī (Cordyline fruticosa, ti) and the herb moa (Psilotum species).

Soon after drinking this mixture, vomiting was induced. Kauna‘oa was also mashed, mixed with water, and strained to provide a liquid to help women after childbirth.

[Photograph: Kauna‘oa]

Kāwa‘u (Ilex anomala)

Common Name: Hawaiian Holly

Indigenous

Family: Aquifoliaceae—Holly Family

A relatively common rainforest tree or shrub, kāwa‘u may grow 16 to 39 feet (5 to 12 m) tall, with thick, oval-shaped leaves that are about 1½ to 5 inches (4 to 12 cm) long and 4/5 to 2-1/3 inches (2 to 6 cm) wide.

The leaves of kāwa‘u are leathery, yet shiny on the upper surface (paler on the lower surface), and distinctively meshed with veins.

Kāwa‘u also produces small, white, waxy-looking flowers that have yellow centers and grow in panicles (branched inflorescences, or flower clusters), eventually maturing into pea-sized purplish-black fruits.

Kāwa‘u is found in bogs and mesic (moist) to wet forest areas of the Hawaiian Islands, most commonly at elevations between about 1,950 to 4,600 feet (600 to 1,400 m). Indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands, kāwa‘u is also native to the Marquesas Islands and Tahiti.

Kāwa‘u was used in ancient Hawai‘i for parts of canoes, as well as for fashioning the wooden kua kuku (kapa-beating anvils) used in the second stage beatings of the kapa (the first stage was typically done on a kua pōhaku (flat stone).

It should be noted that another native Hawaiian tree, Zanthoxylum dipetalum, (an endangered species) is also referred to as kāwa‘u, and was also used for making kapa-beating anvils. (See Kapa (Tapa) Barkcloth, Chapter 3.)

[Photograph: Kāwa‘u)

Kikawaiō (Christella cyatheoides)

Endemic

Family: Thelypteridaceae—Maiden Ferns

Kikawaiō grows to a height of about 3-1/3 feet (1 m) with pinnate fronds (2 rows of leaflets) that may reach a length of up to 5 feet (1.5 m) and are subdivided once.

The fern’s fronds are dull green in color with whitish midrib and round spore clusters (sori). The lower stalk of kikawaiō is winged, and the pinnae have slightly serrated edges.

In ancient Hawai‘i, kikawaiō fronds were sometimes eaten raw as were the fern’s roots, which often were grated and salted. Similar to okra, kikawaiō may be a bit slimy.

Both the roots and fronds of kikawaiō had medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i. Kikawaiō was used medicinally in various ways, including as part of preparations for treating: chest congestion (see Hau); general debility (see Kukui); chest pains (see Mai‘a); and to help induce sleep (see ‘Uala).

Kikawaiō grows at elevations from about 600 to 4,000 feet (180 to 1,220 m), often in gulches and along valley floors.

[Photograph: Kikawaiō]

Koa (Acacia koa)

Endemic

Family: Fabaceae—Pea Family

The Polynesians that first settled in the Hawaiian Islands saw huge, strong trees growing in the mountains and named them koa, a word that comes from the Tahitian word toa, which means “strong.”

In Hawaiian, koa also means “brave,” or “fearless.” Koa trees may reach heights of more than 115 feet (35 m). An ancient proverb states: “E ola koa.” (Live like a koa tree.”), which is explained to mean, Live a long time, like a koa tree in the forest.”[xxi]

Koa grows best above the rainforest zone at around 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,500 to 1,800 m) above sea level, or below the rainforest zone, but is not as prolific in the wettest areas. Koa’s typical range spans from elevations of about 160 to 6,700 feet (50 to 2,050 m). ‘Ōhi‘a lehua trees (Metrosideros species) commonly grow in mixed forests with koa.

Koa trees appear different depending upon where they are growing. In drier areas, koa grows shorter, with a thicker trunk and rougher bark. Koa trees in wetter areas grow much taller, with straighter trunks and smoother bark.

In large mountainside groves where koa grows tall and straight, the first branches of the tree may be more than 50 feet (15 m) high, and the tree may reach heights of more than 100 feet (30 m) with a trunk diameter of more than 10 feet (3 m). Koa’s bark is light gray and smooth on younger trees, but in older trees the bark becomes longitudinally furrowed.

Worldwide there are about 1,200 species in the genus Acacia, though only two, Acacia koa and Acacia koaia, are formally recognized as native (and endemic) to the Hawaiian Islands. Two distinguishable varieties of Acacia koa have been identified: A. koa sensu stricto and A. kauaiensis.

The Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition,[xxii] recommended that these different Acacia varieties be considered subspecies (though formal subspecies status had not yet been recognized).

The Manual classified the tree referred to by the Hawaiian term koai‘e (a particularly hard-wooded species very similar to koa) as a variety of Acacia koa, but not a separate species or subspecies. The 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i, however, distinguishes Acacia koaia as a separate species.

Ancient Hawaiians considered the extremely hard wood of koai‘e (also called koai‘a) valuable for particular uses (see below). Koai‘e’s unique characteristics include a more gnarled trunk and narrower leaves than Acacia koa. Koai‘e (Acacia koaia) is found on Hawai‘i Island, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i and Maui, and is generally shorter than Acacia koa, and prefers drier, more open habitat.

A. kauaiensis is endemic to Kaua‘i, growing above 3,300 feet (1000 m), and usually shorter than A. koa sensu stricto. The wood of A. koaia is known to be significantly harder than other varieties, and was used in ancient Hawai‘i for kapa-beaters and other items requiring particularly hard wood. (See Kapa (Tapa) Barkcloth, Chapter 3.)

Juvenile koa trees produce leaves with a fern-like lacy appearance similar to other non-Hawaiian Acacia species. Juvenile koa leaves consist of five to seven pairs of finely divided pinnae (branchlets).

There are between 13 and 24 pairs of leaflets on each pinna. These distinctive “true leaves” are only found on the very young trees and on older trees where the trees have been injured.

[Illustration: Comparison of infant koa tree leaves vs. mature koa leaves]

In mature koa trees, the leaves are sickle-shaped (crescent-shaped), and are actually not true leaves, but expanded flattened leafstalks (petioles), known botanically as phyllodes (flattened leaf stems). These phyllodes are elliptic in shape, and about 3 to 10 inches (7.5 to 26 cm) long and 1/3 to 1 inch (.5 to 2.5 cm) wide.

Koa’s small white or yellow-colored, pompom-like flowers sprout from the ends of the branches along with fruit that grows in the form of thin, flat pods. These pods are about 3 to 12 inches (8 to 30 cm) long and 1/3rd to 1 inch (.8 to 2.5 cm) wide. The pods of Acacia koaia tend to be narrower, and the phyllodes straighter than the other varieties.

Traditional Uses of Koa

Koa was valued in ancient Hawai‘i not only because of its great strength, but also for the beautiful wavy grain of the hardwood. The color may vary from chocolate brown to orange-brown, reddish, or blond, with rich textural patterns that, when finished properly, may give the wood a 3-dimensional quality. Some koa is straight-grained.

In ancient times, koa wood was used to make jewelry, weapons, wooden carvings and many other items. The tree was also a symbol of strength, and a small koa tree was sometimes placed on the hula altar as a tribute to the hula goddess Laka. This was done to bring bravery and fearlessness to the hula dancer.

Koa was also used to make bowls (calabashes) for holding certain items, however not for food, since the tannic acid in koa wood imparts an unpleasant taste to food. Food bowls were made mostly from the wood of kou (Cordia subcordata), milo (Thespesia populnea, portia), and kamani (Calophyllum inophyllum, Alexandrian laurel).

Ancient Hawaiians used koa to make surfboards (papa he‘e nalu), some as long as 18 feet (5.5 m). Koa wood was also used to construct canoes as well as paddles.

A big koa tree in the forest would be chopped down and then carved out to make the canoe, which could be more than 70 feet (21 m) long and hold more than 70 people.

After Western contact, koa became the prized wood for making musical instruments such as the guitar and the ‘ukulele. Koa is also a primary food source for the caterpillar of the native Blackburn butterfly (Udara blackburni), one of just two native Hawaiian butterfly species.

[Illustration: Koa canoe]

Medicinal Uses of Koa

Ancient Hawaiians had numerous medicinal uses for koa, including using the ashes (likely from the burned leaves) as part of a mixture rubbed onto sores in a child’s mouth.

One ‘opihi (Cellana species) shell full of koa ashes was mixed with one ‘opihi shell full of ashes from a mature niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut palm), and this was mixed with the sap of four fruits of kukui (Aleurites moluccana, candlenut). This preparation was given to sick infants that were between one-half to one year old.

For a person with a fever or in bed with an extended sickness, crushed and pounded koa leaves were placed atop lau hala mats. The sick person would then lie on the mats and leaves, proceeding to sweat until falling asleep.

Upon awakening, the sick person consumed tea made from ko‘oko‘olau (Bidens species). There were other medicinal uses for koa, including a preparation that served as a blood purifier (see ‘Ōlena).

Threats to Koa Forests

Logging, cattle ranching, and demand for valuable koa hardwood has severely depleted old-growth koa forests in the Hawaiian Islands. More than 60% of the original koa forests are gone, and in recent decades the commercial price of koa has increased by 7 to 10 times. Koa remains sought after as a fine hardwood, and is used to make ‘ukuleles, fine furniture and other items.

The remaining koa forests in the Hawaiian Islands are threatened not only by those seeking the wood to fashion furniture, musical instruments, and other items, but also by introduced plant and animal species, such as the Banana Poka vine (Passiflora mollissima) which produces edible fruits eaten by wild pigs that in turn spread the seeds of the vine.

Poachers are also a threat to the species. In 2001 a koa theft ring was broken up on Kaua‘i, and separate indictments were served in 2002.

Koa comprises about 90% of the Hawaiian Islands’ timber industry, which currently grosses some $30 million annually. At least 20,000 acres (8,094 ha) of koa are now being grown commercially. These trees will be ready for harvest in approximately 15 to 20 years.

The old-growth koa forests that do remain in the Hawaiian Islands support numerous native insects as well as providing crucial habitat for endangered native Hawaiian bird species, including the critically endangered ‘alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis, Hawaiian crow), found only on the island of Hawai‘i. Koa forests also provide habitat for the pueo (Asio flammeus sandwichensis, Hawaiian owl) and the ‘io (Buteo solitarius, Hawaiian hawk).

Several Hawaiian honeycreepers have depend (or have depended) on koa, including the extinct hōpue (Rhodacanthis palmeri, greater koa-finch) as well as the extremely endangered Maui parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys).

Another bird that prefers mixed ‘ōhi‘a lehua (Metrosideros species)/koa forests is the endangered ‘akia pōlā‘au (Hemignathus munroi), a little olive and yellow colored bird found only on the island of Hawai‘i.

The ‘akia pōlā‘au has a dual-purpose bill, with a stout lower mandible used to pry away bark so that the bird’s finer upper mandible and tongue can extract insect larvae.

[Photograph: Koa Tree (with ‘akia pōlā‘au)]

Koali ‘Awa (Ipomoea indica)

Common Name: Morning Glory

Indigenous

Family: Convolvulaceae—Morning Glory Family

Koali ‘awa (also called kowali ‘awa) is a twisting vine, sometimes exceeding 15 feet (4.5 m) long. The plant is known for its broad, ovate (egg-shaped) or heart-shaped leaves as well as its bell-shaped flowers that open purplish-blue in the morning but then become more pinkish-white and close up as the day goes on.

The leaves are 2 to 4 inch (5 to 10 cm) long and the flowers are 2 to 3 inch (5 to 7.5 cm) long. Koali ‘awa’s flowers grow individually in the axils of the leaves. The undersides of the leaves are sometimes covered with tiny hairs. O‘ahu, Kaua‘i and Maui have a white-flowered variety of koali ‘awa.

Koali ‘awa’s brown fruits are smooth capsules containing one to four smooth, round, brown seeds. Koali ‘awa grows in a wide array of Hawaiian habitats, particularly in sunny areas at lower elevations, usually below 500 feet (150 m), but up to 490 feet (1,200 m).

An ancient proverb states: “He kowali, he pāka‘awili.” (“He is like a morning-glory vine, twisting this way and that.”), which is explained to mean, Said of an unstable, changeable person who says one thing now and another thing later.”[xxiii]

Traditional uses of koali ‘awa include pounding the roots, stems and leaves as an external treatment for broken bones, bruises and other wounds, aches, or pains. The plant’s vines, leaves, and the bark of the roots were mashed with pa‘akai (sea salt) and this mixture was placed on the area needing treatment.

A leaf of kī (Cordyline fruticosa, ti) was often placed over the skin first to diminish the burning sensation produced by the mixture, which might be held in place by binding the area with kapa (tapa) barkcloth.

Used as a purgative (e.g., for constipation), pounded, mature meat of niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut) was mixed with whole leaves and flowers of koali ‘awa. This was wrapped in kī leaves, broiled and eaten.

Niu water was consumed after the mixture was eaten. The seeds of koali ‘awa also were used for their cathartic properties. Infant babies with ‘ea (thrush) were given pre-chewed koali ‘awa flowers and flower buds.

[Photograph: Koali ‘Awa]

Kohekohe (Eleocharis species)

Common Name: Spikerush

Indigenous

Family: Cyperaceae—Sedge Family

Kohekohe is a Hawaiian term that refers to at least four species of sedges in the genus Eleocharis. The two native (indigenous) Hawaiian species are E. calva and E. obtusa.

Kohekohe commonly grows along the edges of ponds and marshes, near streams and other areas where water is plentiful, including taro fields. The sedge reaches heights of up to 2 feet (60 cm).

Kohekohe had medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i, including as part of a mixture to treat tuberculosis (see Mai‘a) and to ease the pains of childbirth (see Hala). Kohekohe was also used to prepare a comfortable area to place a mat.

An ancient proverb states: “Lulu kohekohe.” (The kohekohe grass is stilled.”), which is explained to mean, Trouble is over. The kohekohe grass, which grows in wet patches, is taken up, washed, and allowed to wilt. Then it is spread on the ground with a mat over it. The owner of the mat then sits down in comfort.”[xxiv]

Another traditional Hawaiian use of kohekohe was for sacrificial offerings made semiannually at ‘aoa, which were specific locations near loko i‘a (fishponds). Along with kohekohe sedge, other offerings at ‘aoa included ‘ama‘ama (Mugil cephalus, mullet), pua‘a (Sus scrofa, pigs), mai‘a (Musa species, bananas), and kalo (Colocasia esculenta, taro).

Two post-contact introduced Eleocharis species, E. geniculata and E. radicans, are now naturalized in the Hawaiian Islands, and are also referred to by the Hawaiian term kohekohe. The 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i[xxv] also lists two new Eleocharis arrivals in the Hawaiian Islands: E. olivacea and E. schaffneri.

[Photograph: Kohekohe (E. calva or E. obtusa)]

Kōlea Lau Nui (Myrsine lessertiana)

Endemic

Family: Myrsinaceae—Myrsine Family

Worldwide there are about 1,000 species in the Myrsine family, mostly in subtropical and tropical regions. The Hawaiian term kōlea refers to the 19 endemic Hawaiian species of shrubs and small trees in the Myrsine genus, including kōlea lau nui (M. lessertiana). Other endemic Hawaiian Myrsine species include kōlea lau li‘i (M. sandwicensis) and ‘ōliko (M. helleri).

Kōlea lau nui is a rainforest tree that grows from 6½ to 26 feet (2 to 8 m) tall, with leathery leaves that are about 2 to 4½ inches (5 to 12 cm) long and ½ to 2 inches (1.3 to 5 cm) wide, growing in clusters near the ends of the branches. The leaves may be reddish-purple when young, eventually becoming dark green, sometimes yellowish.

Kōlea lau nui bears small, purplish flowers and small, round fruits that may be red, black, purplish or yellowish, growing mostly just beneath the leaves. The fruits are numerous and each contains a single seed.

Kōlea lau nui grows in both wet and dry forest areas, as well as on ridges and slopes, most commonly at elevations between 700 and 7,200 feet (215 to 2,200 m).

In ancient Hawai‘i the wood of kōlea lau nui was used for posts and beams in house construction, as well as for making the pale (gunwales) of canoes. Kapa-beating anvils (kua kuku) were also made from the wood. Charcoal from the plant was used to produce a black dye for kapa, while the plant’s red sap was used for a red dye.

It should be noted that Myrsine emarginata, recognized by the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition,[xxvi] was reclassified within Myrsine lessertiana in the 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i.[xxvii]

Myrsine mezii, thought to be extinct, was rediscovered on Kaua‘i. Myrsine juddii (found on O‘ahu) is federally listed as endangered, while Myrsine linearifolia (found on Kaua‘i) is listed as threatened.

[Photograph: Kōlea lau nui]

Koli‘i (Trematolobelia species)

Endemic

Family: Campanulaceae—Bellflower Family

Koli‘i is an endemic, unbranched lobelia shrub that grows up to 13 feet (4 m) tall, with long, narrow leaves. The leaves are 3½ to 10 inches (9 to 25 cm) long and ½ to 1½ inches (1 to 3.5 cm) wide. The leaves are dark green on top but paler in color underneath.

Koli‘i produces clusters of pink/red slender, tubular curved (cerise) flowers that grow symmetrically (candelabra-like) on about 5 to 20 arms, which are horizontal branches radiating out from atop the plant like the spokes of a wheel. The nectar of koli‘i’s flower is a food source for the native honeycreeper birds.

The Hawaiian term koli‘i refers to two species in the genus Trematolobelia, and both prefer wet forest areas, forest edges and high montane bogs. T. macrostachys is found between about 1,650 to 4,900 feet (500 to 1500 m) on West Maui and in O‘ahu’s Wai‘anae and Ko‘olau Mountains.

The species is extinct or nearly extinct, however, on Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i and Hawai‘i Island. T. kauaiensis is endemic to Kaua‘i, and found at elevations from 2,150 to 5,200 feet (650 to 1,585 m). Trematolobelia singularis is on the federal endangered species list.

The Trematolobelia genus belongs to the Lobelioideae subfamily of the Campanulaceae family, which includes some of the most beautiful flowers in the Hawaiian Islands. (See Ālula, Hāhā‘aiakamanu,‘Ōhā, and Pu‘e sections.) These flowers co-evolved with the equally spectacular native forest birds.

Recent molecular analyses (see Introduction to Native Plants) have shown that more than 120 uniquely Hawaiian species in the Lobelioideae subfamily evolved from just one original colonizing species. More than 25% of these endemic Lobelioideae species are now extinct.

[Photograph: Koli‘i]

Ko‘oko‘olau (Bidens species)

Endemic

Family: Asteraceae—Sunflower Family

[Illustration: Ko‘oko‘olau]

Ko‘oko‘olau is a general Hawaiian term for a group of native daisies, all the result of a single colonizing species that evolved into 19 endemic Hawaiian species.

Ko‘oko‘olau usually is from 3-1/3 to 13 feet (1 to 4 m) tall, with leaves that grow opposite one another. The flowers may be yellow or white while the fruits are dark brown or black.

The numerous ko‘oko‘olau species in the Hawaiian Islands inhabit different areas and show many different characteristics. With waxy, succulent leaves, B. hillebrandiana prefers windward coastal habitats on East Maui, Moloka‘i and the island of Hawai‘i’s Kohala Coast.

B. mauiensis is found on coastal cliffs and dry shrubland areas of Kaho‘olawe, Maui and Lāna‘i. B. cervicata grows on the dry ridges and mesic forests of northwestern Kaua‘i and O‘ahu, and on Ni‘ihau. B. micrantha subspecies kalealaha (found on Lāna‘i and Maui) and B. wiebkei (found on Moloka‘i) are federally listed as endangered.

In ancient Hawai‘i, the leaves of ko‘oko‘olau were used to make tea, and the plant is still used today for that purpose. Ancient Hawaiians also had various medicinal uses for the plant.

To treat bad cases of hānō (asthma), a mixture was made of ko‘oko‘olau leaf buds and flowers as well as the older leaves, along with leaf buds of ‘uhaloa (Waltheria indica) and the blossoms and leaf buds of ‘ōhi‘a lehua (Metrosideros species).

These ingredients were pounded and mashed along with kō honua‘ula, heated in an ipu (Lagenaria siceraria, bottle gourd) using hot stones, then cooled and strained, producing a liquid that was consumed several times a day to relieve the asthma. Ko‘oko‘olau was used in conjunction with many medicinal treatments in ancient Hawai‘i (see Hau, Kī, Kukui, Mai‘a, Niu, and Koa sections).

Various Bidens species continue to be used today to make tea, including introduced Bidens species such as Bidens pilosa.

[Photographs: Ko‘oko‘olau]

Kōpiko (Psychotria species)

Endemic

Family: Rubiaceae—Coffee Family

The Hawaiian term kōpiko refers to at least 11 endemic species (and numerous subspecies) in the genus Psychotria, including kōpiko kea (P. kaduana), kōpiko ‘ūla (P. hawaiiensis), and ‘ōpiko (P. mauiensis). The trees may grow from 10 to 66 feet (3 to 20 m) tall.

Kōpiko has thick, leathery leaves that are usually pointed at the tip, but may be blunted. Kōpiko also produces small, usually white tubular flowers that grow in clusters at the branch ends. The fruits are red-orange or purplish-black.

A Hawaiian proverb states: “Ke kōpiko i ka piko o Wai‘ale‘ale.” (“A kōpiko tree on the summit of Wai‘ale‘ale.”), which is “...a boast about an outstanding person.”[xxviii]

Kōpiko’s wood is relatively hard, and whitish in color. In ancient Hawai‘i it was used for fuel, as well as for making kapa-beating anvils (kua kuku). The tree grows most commonly at middle elevations, around 3,300 feet (1000 m) in wet, forest habitat. Kōpiko may be found on all the main Hawaiian Islands, particularly on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu.

[Photograph: Kōpiko]

Kou (Cordia subcordata)

Indigenous (reclassified from Polynesian Introduction, 2001).

Family: Boraginaceae—Borage Family

Kou’s large glossy-green leaves and dense, wide-spreading crown make it an attractive shade tree. Kou may grow more than 40 feet (12 m) in height, though the tree is usually less than 30 feet (9 m) in height. With extensive shallow roots, kou may produce many shoots and sometimes grows in thickets.

Kou’s bark is pale gray in color, and flaky. The ovate leaves are rounded at the base and come to a point. The leaves are about 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) long and 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm) wide.

Kou’s crepy, bright orange flowers grow in small clusters. The 5- to 7-lobed, tubular flowers are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) in diameter, with a 3- to 5-toothed enlarged calyx that contains the fruit, which is about 1½ inches (3.8 cm) in diameter and contains one to four white seeds. The fruit is green when young, but turns grayish-brown and becomes dry as it matures.

In ancient Hawai‘i, kou flowers were strung into lei and the seeds of the tree were eaten. Kou also had medicinal uses.

The attractive, reddish-grained wood of kou may have wavy, dark and light bands. Kou is light, strong and easily worked, and was valued by ancient Hawaiians for creating many different items, including canoes and religious statues, as well as cups, dishes and utensils.

Kou was also one of the preferred woods for calabashes used to hold poi and other food since kou wood does not have tannic acid (as some other native woods do), which negatively affects the taste of the food. The leaves of kou were used to produce a brown dye. It was also used to color fishing lines.

Kou prefers coastal habitat and other low elevation areas that are relatively dry. Though not abundant, the kou tree has been documented on all of the main Hawaiian Islands with the exceptions of Kaho‘olawe and Moloka‘i.

Until 2001, it was widely believed that kou was first brought to the Hawaiian Islands on the voyaging canoes of the early Polynesian settlers of the Hawaiian Islands. Kou was listed as a Polynesian introduction in the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition.[xxix]

However, a recent discovery of subfossil seeds[xxx] caused the 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i [xxxi] to reclassify kou as indigenous (though the tree may also have been brought to the Hawaiian Islands on the Polynesian’s voyaging canoes.

A post-contact introduced moth decimated native populations of the kou trees, but many were later reintroduced for use in landscaping. (See Kou in Lei Flowers sections, Chapter 3.)

[Photograph: Kou]

Lama (Diospyros species)

Common Name: Ebony

Endemic

Family: Ebenaceae—Ebony Family

Lama is generally a small tree, though it may reach heights of 50 feet (15 m). The tree’s oval to oblong leaves are about 5 inches (13 cm) long with pointed tips, showing a network of veins on the upper surface. The new leaves are reddish, maturing to a dark green color with a leathery texture.

Lama produces small flowers in the axils of the leaves, and small green fruits that turn yellow and then bright red as they ripen. Lama provided one of the few edible native fruits available for the early settlers of the Hawaiian Islands.

An endemic Hawaiian hardwood, lama is found at middle and low elevations, and was once relatively common in drier Hawaiian forest areas where it was one of the dominant tree species.

Lama is a relative of the persimmon tree, and a member of the ebony family (Ebenaceae), which is known for its dark-colored, red-brown hardwood. The Hawaiian term lama refers to two endemic species in the genus Diospyros: D. hillebrandii and D. sandwicensis.

Lama had various uses in ancient Hawai‘i. The Hawaiian word lama also means “torch” or “light,” and the tree’s red-brown wood was sometimes wrapped in yellow kapa (tapa) barkcloth scented with ‘ōlena (Curcuma longa, turmeric) and placed on the hula altar as a symbol of enlightenment and to represent Laka, the hula goddess.

The exceptionally hard wood was also used to provide the structural frame of hula temple houses, which were usually thatched with leaves of kī (Cordyline fruticosa, ti).

One method of curing a sick person was to place them in a hut built of lama wood. The hut was built in one day, in the daylight (lama) hours. The wood of lama was also ground up for medicinal uses, and mixed with other materials to treat ‘ea (thrush) and was applied to skin sores (see ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua, Kukui, and ‘Ulu sections).

Another use for lama was for constructing deep-water fish traps. The upright sticks of lama, known as ‘aukā, were held by aerial roots of ‘ie‘ie (Freycinetia arborea), while ‘uala (Ipomoea batatas, sweet potatoes), limu (various species) and ‘ulu (Artocarpus altilis, breadfruit) were used for bait.

[Photograph: Lama]

Laukahi Kuahiwi (Plantago species)

Common Name: Native Plantain

Endemic

Family: Plantaginaceae—Plantain Family

Laukahi kuahiwi is the Hawaiian term originally referring to three endemic species in the Plantago genus: the two small perennial herbs, P. hawaiensis and P. pachyphylla, and P. princeps, which may grow as a robust herb or small shrub.

P. hawaiensis, an endangered species, is found primarily on leeward areas of the Hawaiian Islands at elevations from 5,900 to 6,230 feet (1,800 to 1,900 m) in relatively dry habitat, including in cracks in lava flows.

P. pachyphylla and P. princeps prefer moist forest habitat and are found on Maui, Hawai‘i Island, Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and Moloka‘i at elevations from 1,500 to 7,200 feet (450 to 2200 m). P. princeps, also on the endangered species list, is distinguished from the other two endemic species by its large, branched stems, as well as by the way its flowers grow at nearly right angles to the spike.

Laukahi kuahiwi’s pale green leaves are up to 12 inches (30 cm) long and 2 inches (5 cm) wide, either forming a rosette near the ground or growing as a small, branched shrub reaching a height of up to 6 feet (1.8 m). The plant’s gray appearance is the result of the wooly hair that covers both the top and bottom surfaces of the leaves.

Laukahi kuahiwi also produces tiny flowers that develop in a cylindrical head at the top of a thin stalk that is about 4 to 5 inches (10 cm) tall. The flowers grow in a crowded bunch, with each flower producing a capsule containing about 16 small, dark seeds. The capsules dehisce, bursting and scattering the seeds.

Medicinal Uses of Laukahi Kuahiwi

One traditional use of laukahi kuahiwi was to alleviate the effects of wounds from the spines of wana (Diadema paucispinum, Echinothrix calamaris; sea urchins). Crushed leaves of laukahi kuahiwi were placed on the wounds, counteracting the wana’s toxin and easing the pain.

As a treatment for boils on the skin, laukahi kuahiwi leaves were first rubbed with pa‘akai (sea salt) to make the leaves wilt, and then shaken to remove the salt before being placed on the affected area.

Alternately, the laukahi kuahiwi leaves might be mashed with salt and placed on the boil. A ring of kapa with a kapa bandage wrapped over it was sometimes used to hold the material in place. This treatment was repeated each morning until the pus rose to the skin’s surface and came out.

As a treatment for ‘ea (thrush), laukahi kuahiwi leaves were wrapped in leaves of kī (Cordyline fruticosa, ti) and then broiled. For babies younger than two years old, a mother would first chew the broiled leaves and then feed them to the child.

Children between one and two years old were usually given other formulations, but children older than two ate the broiled leaves directly. A mother who was nursing an infant baby might eat the broiled leaves in order to pass on the plant’s medicinal qualities to the baby through the mother’s milk.

Laukahi kuahiwi leaves are still used today to treat boils. The leaves may also be dried and used to make tea. Fresh leaves may be used to make tea that is used by some as a treatment for diabetes. The seed husks of other plantains are sold commercially as a pharmaceutical product to treat constipation.

A post-contact introduced species, Plantago major, is also known as laukahi, and is now naturalized in the Hawaiian Islands. The plant is commonly known as the broad-leaved or common plantain, and also by the Hawaiian term kūhēkili, P. major has leaves that are broader and more oval-shaped (or even heart-shaped) than the native species.

P. major is relatively common in various Hawaiian habitats, including pastures and lawns, at elevations up to about 4,100 feet (1,250 m). After Western contact, P. major was often used medicinally in place of the native species.

[Photograph: Laukahi kuahiwi]

Limu

[Photograph: Limu]

Ancient Hawaiians gathered many varieties of limu from the ocean as well as from fresh water ponds and streams. More than 860 marine and freshwater algae species are native to the Hawaiian Islands, including at least 80 endemic algae species. (See Overview of Native and Polynesian-Introduced Species of the Hawaiian Islands, Chapter 5.)

Edible varieties of both saltwater and freshwater limu were used for food as well as for medicinal, spiritual and ceremonial purposes. Limu was also an important source of minerals and vitamins lacking in fish and poi, the other two staples of the Hawaiian diet. In this regard it was the perfect complement to a fish and poi meal.

A Hawaiian proverbs states: “Ka i‘a māewa i ke kai,” (“The fish that sways in the sea,”) referring to “The limu (seaweed), which sways with the movement of the sea.”[xxxii]

Of the 343 known species of red limu in the Hawaiian Islands, 67 are endemic, and most are edible. The following is a list of five of the most common edible native species of limu, along with their traditional and medicinal uses.

Limu ‘Ele‘Ele (Enteromorpha prolifera)

Limu ‘ele‘ele is named after the dark color it attains after being picked (‘ele‘ele means, “black”). Called pīpīlani on Maui, limu ‘ele‘ele is a filamentous species, about 2 inches (5 cm) long and about 1/8 inch (3 mm) wide, growing in hair-like tufts.

The strong odor of limu ‘ele‘ele, especially after preparation, has been compared to the smell of sulfur. When harvested for food, the plants are cut off about ½-inch (13 mm) above the base and then washed and rinsed several times.

Hawaiian sea salt (pa‘akai) is then added (approximately 1 tablespoon per cup of limu), and then the limu is left to sit for at least a day before being eaten. It may be kept refrigerated in a container.

Limu ‘ele‘ele is one of the most commonly eaten limu species in the Hawaiian Islands. It is often used to season stew and is also eaten with various species of raw fish. Limu ‘ele‘ele grows in the ocean near freshwater sources such as streams or underwater springs.

[Photograph: Limu ‘ele‘ele]

Limu Pālahalaha (Ulva fasciata)

This limu is commonly referred to as “sea lettuce” and in ancient Hawai‘i was used in hula. Up to 3 feet (91 cm) long, limu pālahalaha is dark green and about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) wide, becoming narrower toward the tip, which may be about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide.

The broad, delicate blades of limu pālahalaha are firm-textured, and often grow branched and ribbon-like, showing golden colors at the margins when in the reproductive phase.

Limu pālahalaha is traditionally used in hula, particularly in western Kaua‘i, where it was given the name pahapaha o Polihale after the beach on island’s western shore. Limu pālahalaha is also known as līpahapaha (which also refers to Monostroma oxyspermum).

A Hawaiian proverb states: “Pahapaha lei o Polihale.” (“The pahapaha lei of Polihale.”), which is explained to mean, At Polihale, Kaua‘i, grew pahapaha (sea lettuce). Visitors gathered and wore this pahapaha in lei because its green color could be revived by immersion in sea water after it had partially dried. Although pahapaha is common everywhere, only that which grows at Polihale revives once it is dry. It is famed in songs and chants of Kaua‘i.”[xxxiii]

Limu pālahalaha is prepared by cleaning it and chopping it into small squares that may be mixed with other seaweeds and salted, and is often eaten with raw fish. A relish made with limu pālahalaha includes onions and chili peppers, and is often eaten with shoyu and sugar. Limu pālahalaha is also boiled to make soup, which may include meat and/or vegetables.

[Photograph: Limu pālahalaha]

Limu Līpoa (Dictyopteris plagiogramma; Dictyopteris australis)

Limu līpoa grows from about 2 to 8 inches (5 to 20 cm) in height, with wavy, golden leaf-like branches that are about ¾-inch (2 cm) wide with a dark brown center midrib. Limu līpoa gets tougher as the plant grows older and becomes unpalatable.

A Hawaiian proverb states: “Ka i‘a hanu ‘ala o kahakai.” (“The fragrant-breathed fish of the beach.”), which is explained to mean, The līpoa, a seaweed with an odor easily detected from a distance.”[xxxiv]

Limu līpoa’s unique flavor and fruity, spicy aroma made it a traditional favorite on all of the Hawaiian Islands. It is often salted and eaten raw, accompanied by poi. It is also eaten with fish such as uhu (parrotfishes), and raw octopus (he‘e maka). Limu līpoa is also used to flavor stews. When heavily salted, limu līpoa keeps without refrigeration.

To make a weak child strong, a mother might chew baked taro with limu līpoa and limu kala. A treatment for ‘ea (thrush) was prepared by mixing limu līpoa, limu kala and broiled kalo (Colocasia esculenta, taro).

This mixture was pre-chewed by the mother before transferring it to the baby’s mouth. This treatment was used for children from four to six weeks old.

Limu līpoa grows in subtidal waters from 3 to 100 feet (1 to 30 m) deep, sometimes in prolific meadows.

[Photograph: Limu līpoa]

Limu Kala (Sargassum echinocarpum)

Limu kala consists of brown, bushy leaves that are about 1 to 4 inches (2.5 to 10 cm) long and ½-inch (13 mm) wide with tooth-like edges and a clear midrib. The leaves grow on plants that are from 10 to 20 inches (25 to 51 cm) high. Small, round floats are found at the bases of the leaves, which may have a rough appearance (kala means “rough”).

Hawaiians distinguished between two main varieties of limu kala based on leaf size. Kala-lauli‘i refers to the small-leaved variety, while kala-launui is the big-leaved variety.

Known to be quite chewy, the younger leaves of limu kala are harvested for eating. Often soaked overnight and then rinsed, limu kala may be salted and eaten raw, perhaps mixed with other limu, baked with fish, used in soup, or dried and deep-fried into chips.

In ancient Hawai‘i there were various traditional uses of limu kala. It was used as a poultice, and placed on cuts or wounds, particularly those inflicted by coral reefs. First chewed or cut into small pieces, the limu was then applied to the wound.

An open lei of limu kala could be worn around the neck by a sick person, who would then walk into the ocean against the waves. As the lei was washed away by the waves, so would go the sickness.

Limu kala was also used in other ways also to restore health and obtain forgiveness. One Hawaiian meaning word of the limu is “to forgive.”

Limu kala was used as part of the Hawaiian ritual called ho‘oponopono, which means, “to put in order,” or “to correct.” In the custom of ho‘oponopono, the family (‘ohana) gathers together in a circle and limu kala (cleaned and washed) is presented to each member. After everyone seeks and grants forgiveness the limu is eaten.

A ceremonial cleansing ritual known as huikala was traditionally performed by a kahuna pule heiau, or temple priest. Chants were voiced as seawater, with limu kala and ‘ōlena (Curcuma longa, turmeric) in it, was sprinkled upon those needing purification.

Limu kala and ‘ōlena (Curcuma longa, turmeric) were also used in a ceremony performed by fishermen (po‘e lawai‘a) before they netted ‘ōpelu (Decapterus species, mackerel scad), which usually took place in the month of Hinaia‘ele‘ele (which corresponds to July). The ceremony took place at an altar near the ocean (a ku‘ula heiau) where the kahuna offered a purification prayer (pule huikala).

Limu kala was used as a bait to attract fish that naturally feed upon it, such as enenue (Kyphosus species), palani (Acanthurus dussumieri) and kala (Naso species). Limu kala also provides food for honū (Chelonia mydas, green sea turtle; and possibly others). Limu kala is sometimes referred to as limu honū.

Limu Kohu (Asparagopsis taxiformis)

Limu kohu grows on stems that are about 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 cm) long, with little to no growth near the base of the stem, but a fuzzy, cylindrical, brush-like growth on the top portion of the stem. A soft and succulent limu, the color of this species varies from tannish pink to brown or dark red.

Limu kohu grows near the edges of reefs, preferring areas where there is constant water movement. It is found around all of the main Hawaiian Islands, and is particularly prolific in the Anahola district of Kaua‘i.

Limu kohu is traditionally a favorite edible limu among Hawaiians, and is sometimes added to stews. To prepare the plant for consumption, the stems are cleaned and then soaked usually for at least a half of a day.

After standing for a time limu kohu develops a strong iodine-like odor. The limu is then salted, pounded and rolled into balls.

Loulu (Pritchardia species)

Common Name: Fan Palm

Endemic

Family: Arecaceae—Philodendron Family

Loulu refers to 22 endemic Hawaiian species in the genus Pritchardia. There are at least another six species in the Pritchardia genus, and these other Pritchardia species are native to Tonga, Fiji, Sāmoa and the Tuamotus.

Loulu may reach heights of more than 130 feet (40 m), and the leaves of the palm grow in a cluster atop the trunk. The roundish fruits grow in bunches, and may be green, brown or yellowish, ripening to black.

Known for their fan shape, some Pritchardia palms are endemic to very localized areas. For example, Pritchardia limahuliensis, discovered in 1977, is found only in Kaua‘i’s Limahuli Valley.

Loulu is also the Hawaiian word for umbrella. In ancient Hawai‘i, the broad, wedge-shaped leaves of loulu were favored for their large surface area, and were used to provide protection from the rain and sun.

The leaves were also used for plaiting, as were lau hala, leaves of hala (Pandanus tectorius, screwpine), makaloa (Cyperus laevigatus), and ‘aka‘akai (Schoenoplectus lacustris, great bulrush).

Some loulu species had specific Hawaiian names, such as loulu hiwa (Pritchardia martii), a thick-trunked species growing in O‘ahu’s Ko‘olau Mountains, and loulu lelo (Pritchardia hillebrandii), growing on windward Moloka‘i.

Several species of Pritchardia are extremely endangered and possibly extinct. The seeds of loulu hiwa are favored for stringing into seed lei (see Loulu-Hiwa in Seed Lei section, Chapter 3).

On a north Moloka‘i islet called Huelo, a game originated by a man named Papio was played by weaving the leaves of loulu into hammocks. Players laid on the hammocks and then were tossed into the sea. The point where this occurred is known as Leina-o-Papio, which literally means “Papio’s leap.”

The Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition,[xxxv] documented 19 endemic Hawaiian Pritchardia species. Since that publication, two new Pritchardia species have been discovered: P. limahuliensis and P. perlmanii. Both species are found on Kaua‘i, and both are extremely rare and endangered.

Another Pritchardia species, P. lanaiensis, was also distinguished after having previously been considered doubtful for the species classification. These three new Pritchardia species documented in the Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i[xxxvi] bring the number of endemic Hawaiian Pritchardia species to 22.

The Pritchardia genus is named after William T. Pritchard, a British consul in Fiji. In 1866, Pritchard wrote a book entitled Polynesian Reminiscences.

[Photograph: Loulu]

Maile (Alyxia oliviformis)

Endemic

Family: Apocynaceae—Dogbane Family

Maile is a twining shrub that grows most commonly at high altitudes because it loves the wet dampness of Hawaiian forests, though it may also grow at lower elevations all the way to sea level.

The shiny, dark green, leathery leaves of maile are ½-inch to 4 inches (1 to 10 cm) long, growing in pairs. The leaves are oval-shaped, coming to a point. The leaves give off an appealing forest fragrance. Maile’s leaf shape and size varies widely, as does the plant’s habitat.

Maile’s tiny, yellowish flowers grow in the axils of the leaves. The flowers are 4- or 5-lobed, and about 1/8 inch (3 mm) long. The blossoms resemble small plumeria flowers, which isn’t surprising considering that maile is in the same family as plumeria.

Maile also produces fruit that is roundish in shape and about ½-inch (1 cm) in diameter, somewhat resembling olives.

Ancient Hawaiians named several varieties of maile, including: maile kaluhea (sweet-smelling maile), maile lau nui (big-leaved maile), maile lau li‘i (small-leaved maile), and maile pākaha (with blunt, ovate leaves).

The Kaua‘i variety of maile is known as maile lau li‘i, and has a smaller, more fragile leaf than maile from the other Hawaiian Islands. Several other spots in the Hawaiian Islands were formerly known for their fine maile before introduced animals, primarily goats, destroyed native habitat.

An ancient proverb states: “Ka maile lau li‘i o Ko‘iahi.” (“The fine-leaved maile of Ko‘iahi.”), which is explained to mean, “Ko‘iahi, O‘ahu, was famed in old chants for the finest and most fragrant small-leaved maile in the islands. It was destroyed by introduced animals.”[xxxvii]

Maile Lei

A maile lei should be given as a single strand, open-ended, and then the receiver of the lei should connect the ends—this is a metaphor for the unending love of an intricately woven relationship.

A maile lei is constructed by first knotting the leaves (kīpu‘u method) and then twisting the strands (wili method). Maile is often strung with lei flowers such as pīkake (Jasminum sambac, Arabian jasmine), ‘ilima (Sida fallax), or berries of mokihana (Pelea anisata). (See Island Flowers and Lei, Chapter 3.)

In ancient Hawai‘i, the ali‘i (royalty) revered maile. It was important in hula, and sacred to Laka, the goddess of hula, who was also considered the goddess of maile.

Laka was said to be able to assume the form of the maile plant, and when she departed the scent would remain. Maile was also one of the five primary plants placed at Laka’s hula altar.

Long garlands of maile were also a symbol of peace between warring chiefs. It is said the chiefs would meet in a heiau (sacred place of worship), and peace would be officially established only when they had finished weaving maile together.

According to one Hawaiian legend, if you smell maile and there is none around, it is because you are at the site of an ancient heiau, or sacred place. Maile was also used to scent kapa (tapa) barkcloth.

Long after a maile lei dries, its woodsy scent remains. The smell derives from coumarin, a strong-smelling substance found in the leaves. Maile’s fragrance is sometimes described as spicy, and vanilla-like.

Today maile is used customarily at the opening of a new building or road, and is often used in place of a ribbon for the ceremonial opening. After a blessing, the maile is untied rather than cut.

[Photograph: Maile]

Makaloa (Cyperus laevigatus)

Indigenous

Family: Cyperaceae—Sedge Family

Makaloa is perennial and relatively fine sedge that sends up long stems from horizontal creeping rhizomes. The stems of makaloa may be more than 2 feet (61 cm) tall, and about 1/10 inch (3 mm) wide.

Each vertical stem is unbranched, and is topped with a small inflorescence (flower cluster) comprised of one or more tiny spikelets. Makaloa grows near sea level, most commonly near saltwater as well as brackish and fresh water pools or ponds and sandy coastal areas.

In ancient Hawai‘i, and indeed in all of Polynesia, the finest sleeping mats were woven from makaloa. These mats are commonly referred to as Ni‘ihau mats because they were made most commonly on that island, though the plant grows on all of the main Hawaiian Islands.

Some of these mats were woven with geometrical patterns, and referred to as moena pāwehe. A Hawaiian proverb states: “Moena pāwehe o Ni‘ihau.” (“Patterned mat of Ni‘ihau.”), which is explained to mean “Poetic expression often used in reference to Ni‘ihau. Fine makaloa mats of Ni‘ihau, beautifully patterned, were famed throughout the islands.”[xxxviii]

Mats made from makaloa were also sometimes used for wrapping bodies that were being preserved, as was often done with ali‘i (chiefs and royalty). The deceased’s intestines were removed and replaced with hāpu‘u pulu, the silky fluff produced by the hāpu‘u tree fern (Cibotium species).

Important people were often buried in the extended position, and in this state the embalmed body was referred to as i‘aloa (long fish). The body was then wrapped in kapa barkcloth. Makaloa and lau hala, leaves of hala (Pandanus tectorius, screwpine) were sometimes used for an outer wrapping.

Most Hawaiian clothing items were constructed from kapa barkcloth made from wauke (Broussonetia papyrifera, paper mulberry), though plaited makaloa was also sometimes used.

Plaited makaloa was also used for constructing the royal feather capes and cloaks known as ‘ahu ‘ula, which means, “royal cloak.” (See Honeycreepers and Honeyeaters section in Native Birds of the Hawaiian Islands, Chapter 7.)

The fibers of the makaloa were also used to absorb medicinal preparations, such as the mixture made from the milky sap of ‘ulu (Artocarpus altilis, breadfruit), powdered lama (Diospyros species, ebony), and roasted and pounded kernels of kukui (Aleurites moluccana, candlenut).

Soaked up by the makaloa, this was applied as a compress to sore areas after they were cleaned with a liquid made from boiling bark of ‘ahakea (Bobea species).

The bracts (modified leaves) of the stem bases of makaloa were used in a medicinal preparation for bladder problems (see Niu). Makaloa was also used to strain liquids for various purposes, including medicinal preparations that were often pounded, squeezed and strained to extract active ingredients (see ‘Awa and ‘Awapuhi Kuahiwi sections).

[Photograph: Makaloa]

Māmaki (Pipturus species)

Endemic

Family: Urticaceae—Nettle Family

Māmaki is a relatively small tree, about 5 to 20 feet (1.5 to 6 m) tall, with mulberry-like fruit and small, wide (ovate), papery, leaves, about 4 inches (10 cm) long, usually serrated on the edges, with three major veins that are red, green, or purplish in color.

The leaves of māmaki are arranged alternately on the stem, and covered with small hairs on the underside, giving them a whitish-green or gray appearance.

Māmaki branches have a smooth, light brown bark and contain a watery sap. The young branches are also covered with wooly, gray hairs. Small flowers emerge in the axils of the leaves, and male and female flowers may occur on the same plant.

The female flowers are pinkish-white while the male flowers are more greenish in color. Fleshy white fruits grow on the plant’s stem. Fruit from the female flowers may be coated with coarse hairs, and varies in color from gray to light yellow or yellow-brown.

Ancient Hawaiians used the word māmaki to refer to the four endemic species in the genus Pipturus, including P. albidus, found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands except Kaho‘olawe and Ni‘ihau; Pipturus forbesii, found at upper elevations of Maui; P. kauaiensis, found on Kaua‘i; and P. ruber, also found on Kaua‘i.

The fibrous inner bark of māmaki was used to make kapa (tapa) barkcloth, though wauke (Broussonetia papyrifera, paper mulberry) was generally preferred because it produced a coarser kapa than wauke.

The long inner bark fibers of māmaki were also used to make strong cordage. The sap of māmaki was sometimes added to the water that was sprinkled on kapa during the beating process.

Māmaki prefers open woodland habitat in relatively moist forest areas from 200 to 5,900 feet (60 to 1,800 m), and is commonly seen near streams and waterfalls, and on the edges of forests. Caterpillars of the native Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea) feed on the leaves of māmaki and other native nettle plants.

Medicinal Uses of Māmaki

Māmaki had various medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i. As a treatment for ‘ea (thrush), the pregnant mother (at about five months) ate five māmaki fruit, followed by eating six at six months, seven at seven months and eight at eight months.

Once the child was born the mother pre-chewed two fruits to give to the baby until the baby was four months old or could chew his or her own fruit, at which time the baby ate six to eight māmaki fruits until about one year of age.

For general debility or listlessness, māmaki tea was prepared using fresh leaves. The tea was heated with hot stones in an ipu (Lagenaria siceraria, bottle gourd).

Māmaki tea is still used today, and is sold commercially in health food stores, as is ko‘oko‘olau (Bidens species) for use as a tea, though it is generally agreed that māmaki has a more pleasant taste and fragrance.

[Photograph: Māmaki]

Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla)

Endemic

Family: Fabaceae—Pea Family

Māmane’s leaves are comprised of 12 to 20 leaflets, each about ¼ to 2 inches (6 to 51 mm) long and 1/8 to 7/8 inch (3 to 22 mm) wide, growing opposite one another.

The narrow, compound leaves give the plant a lacy, evergreen appearance, and are often covered with downy, golden hairs on the underside, as is the new growth on the plant.

Māmane also bears knobby, long seedpods that are ¾ to 6¼ inches (2 to 16 cm) long and up to ¾-inch (2 cm) wide, with four wings and four to eight oval seeds.

Māmane’s flowers are usually golden yellow in color. The blossoms are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, growing in the axils of the leaves and the branch tips. In ancient Hawai‘i the flowers of māmane were strung into lei.

A Hawaiian proverb states: “Kīkē ka ‘alā, uwē ka māmane.” (When the boulders clash, the māmane tree weeps.”), which is explained to mean, “This was first uttered by Hi‘iaka as she watched the fires of Pele destroy Lohi‘au. She described the terrifying outpouring of lava as it overwhelmed him. Later used to mean that when two people clash, those who belong to them often weep.”[xxxix]

The endemic māmane tree grows to 50 feet (15 m) prefers higher elevations and relatively dry habitat, such as the slopes of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai‘i as well as Haleakalā on Maui. Māmane also grows on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Moloka‘i, and Lāna‘i at elevations between 1,500 and 10,500 feet (460-3200 m).

Māmane’s hard wood was used by ancient Hawaiians for home construction, posts and digging sticks. Māmane was also used to make runners for papa hōlua (hōlua sleds), which were used to slide down steep hills lined with pili grass (Heteropogon contortus, twisted beardgrass), or tassels of kō (Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane).

Goats and sheep have devastated native māmane habitats in the Hawaiian Islands along with populations of other species that depend on māmane.

One of these species is the extremely endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper bird, the palila (Loxioides bailleui), found only on the island of Hawai‘i’s Mauna Kea Volcano. The palila’s beak is perfectly evolved to open the seedpods of the māmane, which is nicknamed “the palila tree.”

[Illustration: Palila honeycreeper opening seedpod of māmane]

[Photograph: Māmane]

Ma‘o (Gossypium tomentosum)

Common Name: Hawaiian Cotton

Indigenous (possibly endemic)

Family: Malvaceae—Mallow Family

Ma‘o is a wide-branching shrub that usually grows from about 2 to 6 feet (61 to 183 cm) tall and equally as wide, with silvery-tinged, maple-shaped leaves (similar to kukui) that are wider than they are long. The leaves are about 1.5 to 2 inches (4 to 5 cm) long, and have three or more lobes.

Ma‘o’s bright yellow to golden (hibiscus-like) flowers are 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.6 cm) in diameter, and have five petals, each about ½-inch (1 cm) long.

The plant’s woody, 3-celled seed cases each contain two to four seeds coated with whitish-brown or reddish-brown, downy hair. This soft fluff is sometimes known as brown cotton. Ma‘o is also referred to in Hawaiian as huluhulu.

A member of the cotton genus (Gossypium) and the hibiscus family (Malvaceae), ma‘o is a relative of American commercial cottons. Ma‘o has very little nectaries because it lacks the structures beyond the flower that produce the sugary substances that attract insects.

Researchers continue to investigate how to utilize the genetics of ma‘o to improve commercial cotton so it is more resistant to boll weevils and aphids. Mao’s beneficial qualities have also been bred into commercial strains of upland cotton varieties to lessen the impacts of insects as well as the diseases that may be carried by the insects.

Ma‘o prefers dry habitat at low elevations, including rocky coastlines and coastal plains to an elevation of about 390 feet (120 m). Ma‘o once formed its own type of coastal native habitat, referred to as ma‘o shrubland, along areas of Maui’s dry, rocky coastline where it was the dominant species.

Though ma‘o is relatively uncommon, it is found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands (with the possible exception of the island of Hawai‘i). It may be found on Wailea Point on Maui, and near Ka‘ena Point on O‘ahu, as well as on the arid coastal plains between Sandy Beach and Makapu‘u.

The Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition,[xl] puts ma‘o in the questionably indigenous category. If ma‘o is eventually determined to be endemic, it would be one of the few Hawaiian endemics originating from tropical America.

Ancient Hawaiians used ma‘o to produce a green (‘oma‘oma‘o) dye used for making kapa (tapa) barkcloth. (See Kapa (Tapa) Barkcloth section, Chapter 3.)

Related species of cotton, G. hirsutum (upland cotton) and G. barbadense (sea island cotton), were grown commercially in the Hawaiian Islands in the 1800s and early 1900s. A cotton mill was built in Kailua on Hawai‘i Island in 1838 for this purpose.

[Photograph: Ma‘o]

Mohimohi (Vigna marina)

Common Name: Beach Pea

Indigenous

Family: Fabaceae—Pea Family

Mohimohi is a succulent creeper or climber, twining around boulders, tree roots, and other seaside habitat, where it is also a sand binder. Mohimohi has 3-parted leaves that are light green in color and about 1½ to 4 inches (3.5 to 10.5 cm) long. The plant has yellow flowers.

Mohimohi grows on the island of O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i, and Hawai‘i Island, as well as other Pacific Islands, where it has many has many known medicinal uses, including an infusion to sooth skin rashes.

[Photograph: Mohimohi]

Mokihana (Pelea anisata)

Endemic to Kaua‘i

Family: Rutaceae—Rue Family

Mokihana grows from 6 to 26 feet (2 to 9 m) tall, with leaves 2 to 8 inches (5 to 21 cm) long and 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) wide, with small greenish flowers. The leaves have an anise-like fragrance, particularly when crushed.

Mokihana’s yellowish-green (or purplish), cube-shaped seed capsules are about ½-inch (13 mm) wide, and leathery to the touch. The seedpods also have the strong anise-like fragrance, which becomes stronger as the seed capsules dry.

Mokihana’s distinctive scent may remain with the seed capsules for months and even years. In ancient Hawai‘i the capsules were used as a sachet stored with garments of kapa (tapa) barkcloth.

A proverb states, “Mokihana onaona o Maunahina, lei ho‘ohihi a ka malihini. (The fragrant mokihana berries of Maunahina, lei in which visitors delight. Maunahina is a mountain on Kaua‘i, where the mokihana berries grow best.”)[xli]

Some people are sensitive to the oily substance from mokihana, which can cause blisters on the skin and watery eyes. It’s said that traditional lei stringers were proud of the scars on their fingers from stringing mokihana lei.

Mokihana is considered among the most treasured of seed lei. A mokihana lei is made by stringing together the purplish-green seed capsules after piercing them through their centers. Mokihana is also often strung together (kui) with strands of maile that are knotted (kīpu‘u). A standard 40-inch (102-cm) lei requires about 100 of the mokihana capsules.

Mokihana is also the official emblem of Kaua‘i. Pelea anisata, the mokihana of the famous lei, is endemic to Kaua‘i, growing in Kaua‘i forests at elevations from 1,200 to 4,300 feet (370 to 1,300 m). The genus name, Pelea, is in honor of Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes.

There are numerous endemic relatives of mokihana including P. clusiifolia (kūkaemoa), P. cruciata (pilo ‘ula), P. elliptica (leiohi‘iaka), and the lemony-scented Pelea hawaiensis (mokihana kūkae moa).

The fruit of the mokihana (pua mokihana) is the official emblem of Kaua‘i. (See Mokihana in Island Flowers and Lei section, Chapter 3.)

[Photograph: Mokihana]

Na‘ena‘e (Dubautia species)

Endemic

Family: Asteraceae—Sunflower Family

The Hawaiian term, na‘ena‘e, refers to all native trees and small shrubs in the endemic Dubautia genus, which includes 23 endemic Hawaiian species. Na‘ena‘e grows usually about 5 to 13 feet (1.5 to 4 m) tall, though some species may exceed 26 feet (8 m) tall. The flowers may be yellow, orange, purple or white, growing in cone-shaped clusters, and are often very fragrant.

One variety of na‘ena‘e, Dubautia menziesii, grows in open areas at upper elevations on Maui. Dubautia menziesii has mildly fragrant leaves, and branches that may be covered with white hairs.

Other na‘ena‘e species include D. paleata (na‘ena‘e pua kea), D. laxa (na‘ena‘e pua melemele), and D. latifolia (koholāpehu), and endangered species. D. waialealae grows in the summit bog atop Kaua‘i’s Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale.

The newest Dubautia species discovered is the rare and endangered Dubautia kenwoodii, found only on the rim of Kaua‘i’s Kalalau Valley. Three species and one subspecies of na‘ena‘e are federally listed as endangered.

[Photograph: Na‘ena‘e]

Naio (Myoporum sandwicense)

Common Name: Bastard Sandalwood

Indigenous

Family: Myoporaceae—Myoporum Family

Naio may grow as a tree up to 50 feet (15 m) tall or may grow more shrub-like, especially in rocky or shallow soils near the coast. Naio favors sub-alpine habitats including coastal dry forests and other relatively dry forests at elevations of up to 8,000 feet (2,400 m).

The leaves of naio are about 1½ to 8½ inches (3.5 to 22 cm) long and ¼ to 1½ inches (6 to 38 mm) wide. The leaves are glabrous (no hairs or projections), and new leaves are fleshy (succulent), and may be sticky.

Naio also produces small, greenish-white to pinkish-purplish fruits. The fruits are roundish, each about ¼-inch (6 mm) wide, and waxy. The plant also produces tiny pink or whitish-pink flowers that are about ½-inch (1 cm) wide, growing from the axils of the leaves. The flowers also emit a sandalwood-like scent.

Naio shrubland once covered significant areas on all of the Hawaiian Islands, but the tree’s habitat is now a fraction of its former domain. Naio has various uses in ancient Hawai‘i, including as posts for houses, as well as for netting needles (hi‘a kā ‘upena), which were used to make fishing nets.

The wood of the naio tree is a dark, yellow-green color, and has a scent similar to sandalwood when cut or burned, though the quality of naio’s wood is inferior to sandalwood and the scent does not last as long. After the sandalwood trade used up the supply of sandalwood in the Hawaiian Islands, some shiploads of naio were sent to China only to be rejected.

The naio tree supports numerous native species, and the fruit was once the main food source for the now extinct Kona Grosbeak (Chloridops kona).

Naio was used in various medicinal formulations in ancient Hawai‘i, including as a treatment for lung problems (see Pōhuehue); a treatment for hānō (asthma) (see Niu); a preparation to ease a difficult childbirth (see Hala); and a treatment for growths in the nose (see ).

[Photograph: Naio]

Naupaka (Scaevola species)

Endemic; Indigenous

Family: Goodeniaceae—Goodenia Family

Naupaka is known for its asymmetric flowers, which appear as if they are half flowers. Hawaiian legends tell of how the “half” flower of the naupaka plant represents lovers that were separated.

The naupaka blossoms in the mountains represent the young boy, while the blossoms near shore symbolize the young girl. Finding a “whole” flower is a message that the two have been reunited. Native species that feed on naupaka berries include the nēnē (Branta sandvicensis, Hawaiian goose).

Ancient Hawaiians used the term naupaka to refer to ten species in the genus Scaevola. Nine of the naupaka species are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, and one species is indigenous.

Naupaka Kahakai

Hawai‘i’s one indigenous naupaka species, S. sericea is known as naupaka kahakai, or beach naupaka (kahakai means “beach”). A spreading shrub that may reach up to 12 feet (3.7 m) in height, naupaka kahakai has 3 to 8 inch (5 to 20 cm) long, bright green, succulent leaves and produces white berries that are about ½-inch (1.3 cm) wide.

The flowers of naupaka kahakai grow in clusters of five to nine, in the axils of the leaves and about ¾-inch (2 cm) long. The fragrant flowers are light-colored, white or yellow, and may show purple streaks. Naupaka flowers split longitudinally as they bloom, producing the appearance of half flowers, as mentioned above.

The white fruits (berries) of beach naupaka resemble small hailstones. In Hawaiian, naupaka kahakai is also referred to as huahekili, which means “hail.” Naupaka fruits also float, which assists the spread of this native species around coastline areas.

The seeds may germinate even after one year at sea. The berries were sometimes eaten in ancient Hawai‘i, and the bark of the plant also had medicinal uses.

Naupaka Kuahiwi

Naupaka kuahiwi is the Hawaiian term for mountain naupaka (kuahiwi means “mountain”). Naupaka kuahiwi berries are much darker (purple or black) than beach naupaka, and were used to produce a dye for kapa (tapa) barkcloth.

The flowers of naupaka kuahiwi are smaller than those of naupaka kahakai, though they have the same “half flower” appearance. Naupaka kuahiwi may also occasionally (rarely) produce white berries.

The term naupaka kuahiwi was used by ancient Hawaiians to refer to six species, including S. chamissoniana (found on Maui, Hawai‘i Island, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i); S. gaudichaudiana (found on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i); S. gaudichaudii (found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands with the exception of Kaho‘olawe and Ni‘ihau); S. mollis (found on O‘ahu, Kaua‘i and Moloka‘i); and S. procera (found on Moloka‘i and Kaua‘i).

S. kilauea was referred to as naupaka kuahiwi but also known as huahekili uka. Huahekili uka produces dull-yellow flowers, and is found only in the dry lava habitat near Kīlauea Volcano on the island of Hawai‘i. The black fruits of huahekili were also used to produce a dye for kapa barkcloth.

The flowers of naupaka kuahiwi may be light colored (white, yellow, or pink) or may be a darker purplish-brown color. In moist, higher elevation habitats, including montane forest, the plant’s leaves are smaller and non-succulent, and have pointed tips efficient at draining away excess water.

The plant originally evolved from a coastal species that gradually extended its domain into the mountains over many millennia, developing adaptations to the wet uplands and montane forest habitats.

Other Naupaka Species

S. coriacea, nearly extinct and federally listed as endangered, is known as naupaka papa (commonly called dwarf naupaka), and is found on coastal dunes in Waiehu, Maui, and rarely on Mokuho‘oniki Islet off Moloka‘i, Mōke‘ehia Islet off of Maui, and in Kaupō, Maui. Dwarf naupaka exhibits characteristics of both the mountain and coastal naupaka species.

Another Scaevola species is S. glabra, known as ‘ohe naupaka, and is distinct in that its origin represents a separate ancestral colonization in the Hawaiian Islands from the previously mentioned endemic Scaevola species. ‘Ohe naupaka is found in O‘ahu’s Ko‘olau Mountains as well as on Kaua‘i.

The most recently discovered naupaka species is Scaevola hobdyi, once found in West Maui but apparently now extinct. This species was not recognized in the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition,[xlii] but is recognized in the 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i.[xliii] Scaevola hobdyi also apparently represents a separate colonization (from Australia).

[Photograph: Naupaka]

Nehe (Lipochaeta species)

Common Name: Native Daisies

Endemic

Family: Asteraceae—Sunflower Family

Nehe is a general Hawaiian term for a group of yellow-flowered native daisies in the genus Lipochaeta, including at least 20 endemic Hawaiian species, many of which are rare and endangered. Nehe species inhabit a variety of environments, from coastal areas to mountaintops to lava flows.

Lipochaeta lavarum is a nehe species with whitish green leaves and yellow flowers, and may grow in extremely dry areas including chunky lava areas. The windward coasts of the Hawaiian Islands support the small-leaved Lipochaeta integrifolia, with succulent leaves that are 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and covered with white hairs.

Nehe blooms rise up from the mat of silvery-green ground-cover leaves, and are topped with what might appear to be a single flower that is about ½-inch (13 mm) wide, but is actually a cluster of tiny flowers surrounded by a ring of petal-like florets. Six Lipochaeta species and one variety are on the federal endangered species list.

[Photograph: Nehe]

Nīoi (Eugenia species)

Indigenous

Family: Myrtaceae—Myrtle Family

Nīoi may grow as a small shrub or tree, reaching heights up to 23 feet (7 m), with leaves that are (2.5 to 8 cm) long and ½ to 2½ inches (1 to 6.5 cm) wide.

The Hawaiian word nīoi refers to two closely related species, the endemic E. koolauensis, and the indigenous E. reinwardtiana. E. reinwardtiana grows at elevations from (180 to 730 m) on Moloka‘i, Maui, and O‘ahu, while the E. koolauensis (a federally listed endangered species) grows on O‘ahu and Moloka‘i.

Ancient Hawaiians used nīoi’s hard wood to make the beaters that were used to make kapa (tapa) barkcloth. The wood was also used in heiau (sacred places of worship). The wood of nīoi trees from Moloka‘i and Mauna Loa was said to be poisonous.

A Hawaiian saying states: “Ka nīoi wela o Paka‘alana,” (“The burning nīoi of Paka‘alana,”), referring to “...the heiau of Paka‘alana in Waipi‘o, Hawai‘i. The timber used about the doorway was of nīoi wood. According to ancient legend, the nīoi, ‘ohe, and kauila trees on Moloka‘i are said to be possessed by poison gods and are regarded as having mana. To tamper with the trees or the wood, especially in places of worship, is to invite serious trouble.”[xliv]

[Photograph: Nīoi (Eugenia species)]

It should be noted that the term nīoi also refers to a post-contact introduction, the red or chili pepper (Capsicum frutescens), which was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1800s and is now naturalized in the Hawaiian Islands.

The term nīoi also refers to various other peppers, including nīoi lei, a variety used in lei, and nīoi nunui, a large pepper often used in relishes. Nīoi niho pua‘a means “hog tusk” nīoi, and refers to a large chili pepper that is about 3½ inches (9 cm) long with a shape resembling that of a hog’s tusk.

[Photograph: Nīoi (Capsicum frutescens)]

Nohoanu (Geranium species)

Common Name: Native Geraniums

Endemic

Family: Geraniaceae—Geranium Family

Ancient Hawaiians referred to six endemic species of native geraniums as nohoanu. These high altitude geraniums (nohoanu means “cold dwelling”) are shrubs with small, ovate leaves that have toothed edges. The flowers are white or reddish.

G. arboreum, G. cuneatum, and G. multiflorum grow on Maui‘s Haleakalā, while G. hanaense grows in Maui’s Hāna Forest Reserve, and G. hillebrandii (formerly G. humile) in the bogs of West Maui’s Mount ‘Eke and Pu‘ukukui. G. kauaiense grows in the bogs of Kaua‘i’s Alaka‘i Swamp. G. cuneatum also grows on the island of Hawai‘i. G. arboreum and G. multiflorum are on the federal endangered species list.

Nohoanu also are referred to by the Hawaiian term hinahina, a reference to the plant’s silvery green leaves (hina means “gray”). Nohoanu are also host to extremely specialized silvery spiders and insects.

It should be noted that the Hawaiian word hinahina also refers to the native heliotrope, Heliotropium anomalum var. argenteum (see Hinahina), as well as the silversword, also known as ‘āhinahina (Argyroxiphium sandwicense). (See ‘Āhinahina.)

[Photograph: Nohoanu]

Nohu (Tribulus cistoides)

Indigenous

Family: Zygophyllaceae—Creosote Bush Family

Nohu is a low-lying perennial herb found in coastal areas. The plant’s stems are around 3 feet (1 m) long or more, with paired leaves that are from 1 to 5 inches (2.5 to 13 cm) long, each with about six pairs of ½-inch (13-mm) long leaflets, which are less than ½-inch (13 mm) wide. Fine hairs cover the leaves and stems.

Nohu also produces lemon yellow, 5-petaled flowers, less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, and dry, spiny fruits that are about 1/3-inch (8 mm) in diameter, and divided into three to five lobes.

Nohu grows on all of the main Hawaiian Islands as well as on most of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. A closely related plant is Tribulus terrestris, also known as puncture vine, or goat head, and now naturalized in on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i Island, Maui and Kaua‘i. It is one of just a few prickly native Hawaiian species, and shares its name with another native spiny organism (Scopaenopsis cacopsis), also known as nohu.

[Photograph: Nohu]

Nuku ‘I‘iwi (Strongylodon ruber)

Endemic

Family: Fabaceae—Pea Family

Found most commonly at elevations from 500 to 2,500 feet (150 to 760 m), nuku ‘i‘iwi is a woody, climbing vine that may grow over shrubs and trees. The leaves are 3-parted (3 leaflets), each about 2½ to 5 inches (6.5 to 12.5 cm) long and 1½ to 2 inches (4 to 10.5 cm) wide.

The beautiful scarlet flowers of nuku ‘i‘iwi are borne on hanging spikes in clusters, with usually two or three flowers in a cluster. The flowers are narrow and curved, coming to a point, and resemble the shape of the beak of the ‘i‘iwi (Vestiaria coccinea), an endangered native Hawaiian honeycreeper bird (nuku means “beak”).

Nuku ‘i‘iwi’s flattened seedpods are 3 to 5 inches (8 to 12 cm) long and 2 to 2½ inches (4.5 to 6 cm) wide, holding one or two black, round seeds.

Nuku ‘i‘iwi still survives at the lower elevations that the ‘i‘iwi once inhabited, though avian malaria and loss of habitat have now restricted the ‘i‘iwi’s range to higher elevations. (See ‘Ī‘iwi in Forest and Mountain Birds of the Hawaiian Islands, Chapter 7.)

Nuku ‘i‘iwi is found in the forests of Moloka‘i, Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island at elevations from 600 to 2,700 feet (180 to 825 m).

[Photograph: Nuku ‘I‘iwi]

‘Ōhā (Brighamia, Clermontia, Cyanea)

Common Name: Tree Lobelias

Endemic

Family: Campanulaceae—Bellflower Family

[Photographs: Brighamia, Clermontia, Cyanea]

‘Ōhā (or ‘ōhā wai) is a general term that refers to various endemic lobelias in the bellflower family (Campanulaceae). There are many different Hawaiian terms for the various lobelias, and well over 100 different species of endemic lobelias in the Hawaiian Islands. The precise number of species and subspecies continues to change as botanical classifications are refined and altered.

Significant classification changes within the Campanulaceae family are listed in the 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i,[xlv] including the elimination of the genus Lobelia. The 13 endemic species formerly considered part of the Lobelia genus are now classified either as Galeatella or Neowimmeria.

For example, Lobelia kauaensis was reclassified as Galeatella kauaensis. This replacement of the Lobelia genus with Galeatella and Neowimmeria was based on molecular analyses revealing that all native Hawaiian species in the Campanulaceae family derived from a single ancestor.

The family Campanulaceae is divided into two subfamilies: Campanuloideae and Lobelioideae. The subfamily Lobelioideae includes some of the most beautiful flowers in the Hawaiian Islands.

Unfortunately, more than 25% of the Hawaiian Islands’ endemic Lobelioideae species have become extinct since 1778 when Captain Cook first arrived in the Hawaiian Islands beginning the period of Western contact that brought various threats to native Hawaiian species.

Uses of ‘Ōhā in Ancient Hawai‘i

Varieties of ‘ōhā include: ‘ōhā kēpau (Clermontia hawaiiensis) and ‘ōhā wai nui (Clermontia arborescens). The Hawaiian term ōhā kēpau literally means “gum ‘ōhā,” referring to the sticky gum produced by the tree. This gummy sap was used by ancient Hawaiians to catch birds for feathers used in featherwork.

Ōhā kēpau grows from 5 to 30 feet (1.5 to 9 m) tall, with oblong leaves that are 3½ to 9½ inches (9 to 24 cm) long and (1 to 2½ inches (2.5 to 6.5 cm) wide. The leaves are dark green and glossy on the upper surface and whitish green beneath.

The Clermontias are known for their candelabra-like branching stems and their 5-parted flowers (the calyx and corolla), which may be greenish-white to purple. ‘Ōhā wai nui (Clermontia arborescens) is very similar to ‘ōhā kēpau.

[Photographs: ‘Ōhā kēpau; ‘ōhā wai nui]

Hāhā‘aiakamanu (Clermontia fauriei, clermontia), endemic to Kaua‘i’s higher elevations, also produces a thick sap used for bird catching (the plant’s name means “food of the birds”).

Hāhā‘aiakamanu grows as a tree or small shrub with narrow, oblong leaves and purplish-green flowers that are long and curved, matching the shape of the beaks of the endemic honeycreepers that pollinate the plant. (See Hāhā‘aiakamanu.)

Five Clermontia species and two subspecies are federally listed as endangered. Clermontia peleana subspecies singulaflora, formerly found on Hawai‘i Island and Maui, was listed as endangered in 1999 but is now considered extinct.

One of the most visually stunning native Hawaiian lobelias is Cyanea angustifolia, which may reach heights of more than 15 feet (4.6 m), and produces a large roseate of hundreds of long, curved blossoms that bloom around September.

Twenty-one species and one subspecies of Cyanea are on the federal endangered species list, along with one species classified as threatened.

Five new Cyanea species recently discovered are documented in the 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i,[xlvi] and these newly discovered species may also eventually be federally listed as endangered species.

Two other species referred to by Hawaiians as ‘ōhā are also listed as endangered: Delissea rivularis and Delissea subcordata.

Many of the surviving ‘ōhā species are extremely endangered. The plants are prime food for feral pigs, and their geographic ranges are in many cases very localized, making them vulnerable to extinction.

The endemic nectar-feeding Hawaiian honeycreeper birds are the natural pollinators of many of these lobelias, and the long, thin flower throats match the beaks of particular native bird species. This is an example of co-evolution, a process whereby species evolve in connection with one another to the mutual benefit of both species.

Ālula (Brighamia species) were on the brink of extinction before benefiting greatly from the efforts of botanists on Kaua‘i who pollinated the plants and collected seeds for propagation.

These botanical efforts were featured in the National Geographic television special, Strangers in Paradise. (See Ālula; Koli‘i and Pu‘e sections.)

‘Ohai (Sesbania tomentosa)

Endemic

Family: Fabaceae—Pea Family

‘Ohai is a coastal species that grows most commonly in dry, sunny coastal areas at elevations up to 2,700 feet (825 m). Generally a low-growing woody shrub reaching only up to about 3 feet (.9 m) tall, ‘ohai may also grow as a small tree, reaching heights of more than 20 feet (6 m).

‘Ohai’s sprawling branches may exceed 46 feet (14 m), with pale green or silvery green, compound leaves.

‘Ohai’s leaves consist of 12 to 38 pairs of oblong to elliptical leaflets, each about ½ to 1½ inches (1.5 to 4 cm) long. The branches and leaves of ‘ohai are leaflets covered with a silky hair that gives them a whitish tint, an adaptation that helps the plant reflect solar radiation and aids its chances for survival in beach environments. It also explains the plant’s species name, tomentosa, which refers to its hairiness.

‘Ohai’s flowers are about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) long, and orange to salmon red, or rarely whitish or yellow in color, growing in clusters of usually two to five, in the axils of the leaves. Ancient Hawaiians used the flowers in lei, and are still used for this purpose, often strung Maunaloa style.

‘Ohai’s narrow seedpods, which form when ‘ohai’s flowers are pollinated, are 3 to 9 inches (7 to 23 cm) long. The seedpods hold 4 to 27 small seeds that are olive-green to dark brown in color.

‘Ohai was once common along shorelines of the Hawaiian Islands, but is now on the federal endangered species list. Coastal development as well as recreational vehicles along shorelines continue to threaten the last remaining populations of ‘ohai. The plant may still be found near O‘ahu’s Ka‘ena Point; on the island of Hawai‘i near ‘Āpua Point and Ka‘alu‘alu; and in Mānā, Kaua‘i.

‘Ohai is also found on Necker and Nihoa Islands in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. A variety of ‘ohai found only on Moloka‘i is Sesbania tomentosa form arborea. While this variety also prefers dry habitats, is found at higher elevations than the coastal varieties.

[Photograph: ‘Ohai]

‘Ōhelo (Vaccinium species)

Endemic

Family: Ericaceae—Heath Family

‘Ōhelo is a Hawaiian term that refers to three endemic Hawaiian species in the Vaccinium genus, including V. calycinum, V. dentatum, and V. reticulatum. Vaccinium reticulatum, sends shoots as high as 80 inches (200 cm), and is the most common of the three Hawaiian ‘ōhelo species, producing small pink-yellow to yellow-green flowers and reddish fruits.

Both fruit and flowers occur year round, though the flowers of ‘ōhelo bloom mostly in spring while the fruits are most common in fall, with the greatest number of berries being harvested from June to September, particularly on Maui and Hawai‘i Island.

‘Ōhelo berries may be from 1/3 to ½-inch (8 to 15 mm) in diameter. The color of the berries varies with species and habitat, and may be red, yellowish-orange, pink or bluish-black, while the plant’s green leaves may be tinted blue or grayish, with finely serrated margins.

A Hawaiian proverb states: “Mai hahaki ‘oe i ka ‘ōhelo o punia i ka ua noe. (“Do not pluck the ‘ōhelo berries lest we be surrounded by rain and fog.”), which is explained to mean,A warning not to do anything that would result in trouble. It is kapu to pluck ‘ōhelo berries on the way to the crater of Kīlauea. To do so would cause the rain and fog to come and one would lose his way. It is permissible to pick them at the crater if the first ‘ōhelo is tossed into the fire of Pele. Then, on the homeward way, one may pick as he pleases.”[xlvii]

‘Ōhelo is a close relative of huckleberry, which it resembles. In ancient Hawai‘i, ‘ōhelo was considered sacred to Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes. The fruiting branches of ‘ōhelo were thrown into Kīlauea Volcano as an offering to her.

‘Ōhelo berries provide food for the Hawaiian Islands’ endangered state bird, the nēnē (Branta sandvicensis, Hawaiian goose). The berries are also used by local residents to make tasty pies and sauces as well as ‘ōhelo berry jam. The leaves of ‘ōhelo may be used to make tea.

[Illustration: ‘Ōhelo]

‘Ōhelo Kai (Lycium sandwicense)

Common Name: Sea Berry

Indigenous

Family: Solanaceae—Nightshade Family

‘Ōhelo kai is a small, low-lying beach shrub that is halophytic (salt-tolerant), and usually grows within reach of the salty sea spray on dry, rocky coastal areas and around salt marshes.

The name ‘ōhelo kai is a reference to the similarity of the plant’s berry to the berry of ‘ōhelo (Vaccinium species). The suffix, kai means “sea,” referring to the plant’s seaside habitat. ‘Ōhelo kai is also referred to by the Hawaiian term ‘ae‘ae, which means “rising tide,” also a reference to where the plant grows (near the ocean).

The branches of ‘ōhelo kai stretch out over the ground and may send down roots. The plant’s succulent leaves are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and light green in color.

‘Ōhelo kai also produces whitish-blue to lavender-colored flowers that are about ¼-inch (6 mm) long, consisting of four joined petals. The small, red, juicy fruits of ‘ōhelo kai contain an edible but salty tasting pulp and numerous flattened seeds. Indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands, ‘ōhelo kai is also native to Tonga and other tropical Pacific areas.

[Photograph: ‘Ōhelo kai]

‘Ōhi‘a Lehua (Metrosideros species)

Endemic

Family: Myrtaceae—Myrtle Family

‘Ōhi‘a lehua is most easily recognized by its bright red blossoms, which look like scarlet pompoms, but may also be pale red, orange, yellow or salmon colored.

These bright-colored pompom-like structures are the flower’s many stamens (the male organs). The flower also has one pistil (the female organ). One rare variety, ‘ōhi‘a lehua puakea (or ‘ōhi‘a kea), produces blossoms that are a creamy white color.

An ancient saying, “Na lehua puakea o Ninauapo” (“The white lehua blossoms of Ninauapo”[xlviii]), refers to Ninauapo in Mānoa, O‘ahu.

One of the most abundant trees in native Hawaiian forests, the ‘ōhi‘a lehua may be more than 100 feet (30 m) tall. Depending on the soil and climate, the tree may grow straight and tall or short and scraggly. In some soil and climate conditions the tree grows more like a gnarled shrub (e.g., in lava flow areas).

‘Ōhi‘a lehua is very adaptable to a variety of habitats from sea level to mountaintop, from harsh, volcanic terrains on the island of Hawai‘i to Kaua‘i’s high and extremely wet Alaka‘i Swamp. In the wet bogs of Kaua‘i’s Alaka‘i Swamp, the ‘ōhi‘a lehua’s growth is naturally stunted by extremely acidic soil and heavy rains, resulting in dwarf versions of the tree.

The Hawaiian terms ‘ōhi‘a, ‘ōhi‘a lehua, and lehua are all synonymous, and refer to the two endemic species: M. macropus and M. polymorpha. Other related names refer to varieties of these species with particular colored flowers or other notable characteristics.

For example, ‘ōhi‘a ‘ula‘ula refers to a red-flowered variety, lehua mamo refers to a yellow-flowered variety (like the prized yellow feathers of the now-extinct mamo bird); lehua ‘āpane refers to a dark red flowered variety (like the ‘apapane bird’s color), and ‘ōhi‘a lau li‘i refers to a small-leaved variety.

While M. polymorpha usually bears red or orange flowers, and less commonly pink, yellow, salmon, or rarely white flowers, M. macropus flowers are usually yellow, and sometimes red.

[Illustration: ‘Ōhi‘a lehua blossoms]

‘Ōhi‘a lehua is often mentioned in ancient chants and legends, and has many connections to Hawaiian culture. According to Hawaiian legend, Pele the goddess of fire and volcanoes was jealous of the true love between ‘Ōhi‘a and Lehua.

One of Pele’s sister’s, Hi‘iaka, wanted to make sure that the couple could stay together forever, despite Pele, so she turned ‘Ōhi‘a and Lehua into a tree. It is now said that picking the lehua blossoms will cause it to rain, because it is symbolic of separating the couple, which causes tears to flow from the heavens. If the flowers must be picked, they should be picked on the way down from the mountain.

Beautiful lei are woven from the flowers, unopened buds, young silvery leaves (liko lehua), and seed capsules (hua lehua) of the ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree. The nectar-filled blossoms are also an important food source for endemic Hawaiian forest birds, such as the ‘i‘iwi (Vestiaria coccinea), ‘amakihi (Hemignathus virens), ‘apapane (Himatione sanguinea) and others.

Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, ‘ōhi‘a lehua is a member of the myrtle family, the same family as eucalyptus and guava. Local beekeepers also appreciate the nectar-filled blossoms of the ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree and market lehua blossom honey, which is known for its sweet and aromatic taste.

[Illustration or photograph: Three different ‘ōhi‘a lehua blossoms, including red, yellow and white variations]

‘Ōhi‘a lehua’s scientific genus name, Metrosideros, is a Greek word that means “Heart of iron,” referring to the tree’s extremely hard wood. The species name, polymorpha is in reference to the many different forms the tree may take in its various island habitats, from high swamps to lava flows to lowland valleys.

The tree may grow tall or very short and may have very rough or relatively smooth bark. The tree’s leaves may be thick or thin, roundish or more elongated, and smooth or fuzzy on the underside.

As noted, different varieties of the ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree produce different colored flowers. Out of the branches of older ‘ōhi‘a lehua trees sprout other plants, such as herbs, ferns and even other trees and shrubs.

Traditional Uses of ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua in Ancient Hawai‘i

In ancient Hawai‘i, the strong wood of ‘ōhi‘a lehua was valued in house construction, especially for posts and rafters, which were made from straight lengths of the wood. The reddish-colored ‘ōhi‘a wood was also used to carve temple statues, canoes, spears, mallets, poi boards, bowls and other items.

In ancient Hawai‘i, most of the large carvings of religious and sacred images, some up to 15 feet (4.6 m) tall, were carved of ‘ōhi‘a lehua wood. Left outdoors, the ‘ōhi‘a lehua wood dries and is prone to cracking, and eventually becomes bleached by the sun and rain. This makes for ancient carvings that take on a striking appearance as they are aged by time and the elements of nature.

As Christianity became prevalent in the Hawaiian Islands (in the 1800s) many beautiful ancient carvings were destroyed. Relatively few examples of this ancient craft still exist, though there are many sketches and drawings of the ‘ōhi‘a lehua woodcarvings.

An ancient saying states “Ke uwē nei ka ‘ohi‘a o Kealakona” (“The ‘ōhi‘a wood of Kealakona weeps [for you]”), which was “...uttered as a taunt by Mahihelelima, powerful warrior of Maui, when he sent his slingshots toward the warriors of Hawai‘i under Pi‘imaiwa‘a. ‘Ōhi‘a logs from Kealakona were used for the fortress on Ka‘uiki, where the Maui warriors fought the invaders. Later used to mean, ‘We are prepared to defend ourselves and we are sorry for you if you try to fight us’.”[xlix]

The ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree was very important in the practice of hula, and represented the goddess Laka. On the altar of a hālau hula, branches of ‘ōhi‘a lehua were placed along with other plants sacred to Laka. The volcano goddess Pele was also represented by the red-flowered ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree.

Just as the ‘ōhi‘a lehua was one of the most important trees of ancient Hawai‘i, today the ‘ōhi‘a lehua is one of the most important trees providing native habitat for endangered Hawaiian species.

Medicinal Uses of ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua

The inner bark of hau (Talipariti tiliaceus) and ‘ōhi‘a lehua flower clusters were mashed together with spring water, and then squeezed and strained to produce a liquid that was consumed to ease the pains of childbirth.

As a treatment for ‘ea (thrush), ‘ohi‘a lehua liko (young leaves) were pounded together with the flowers, leaf buds and leaves of lama (Diospyros species, ebony) and spring water. This was left to soak overnight and then heated with hot stones, then squeezed and strained and consumed by the afflicted child along with tea made from ko‘oko‘olau (Bidens species), and poi lehua, which was made from kalo lehua, a pinkish-cormed variety of kalo (Colocasia esculenta, taro).

A mother might treat infections in a baby’s mouth by chewing ‘ōhi‘a lehua leaves and then transferring the contents straight into the baby’s mouth. ‘Ōhi‘a lehua was also used to make a tonic that caused drowsiness.

[Photograph: ‘Ōhi‘a lehua tree]

‘Ōlapa (Cheirodendron species)

Endemic

Family: Araliaceae—Ginseng Family

A tree found in wet forest habitat, ‘ōlapa usually grows to less than 10 m (33 ft), but may exceed 50 ft (15 m). ‘Ōlapa has compound leaves and juicy, purple fruits that are about 1/4 inch (6 mm). ‘Ōlapa’s flowers grow in umbels in the leaf axils.

The tree’s compound leaves are divided into three to five leaflets that are known to lapalapa (flutter) in the wind. Lapalapa is another name for the tree.

‘Ōlapa (or lapalapa) refers to five endemic species in the Cheirodendron genus, including C. dominii, found near the summit of Kaua‘i’s Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale; C. fauriei and C. forbesii, found on Kaua‘i; C. platyphyllum, found on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i, and C. trigynum found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands with the exception of Kaho‘olawe.

The bark, roots, leaves and fruit of ‘ōlapa were used to produce a bluish-black dye used to color kapa (tapa) barkcloth. The leaves were also used in lei and the fruits are food for forest birds such as the puaiohi (Myadestes palmeri).

[Photograph: ‘Ōlapa]

Olomea (Perrottetia sandwicensis)

Endemic

Family: Celastraceae—Bittersweet Family

Olomea is found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands in wet, mid-elevation forests. Growing as a tree or small shrub, olomea has shiny, dark green leaves that are red-veined and about 2¾ to 7½ inches (7 to 19 cm) long and (3 to 8 cm) wide.

Olomea also produces small, reddish-green flowers, and bright red fruits that are about 1/5 to 1/4 inch (4 to 6 mm) in diameter, growing in panicles (branched inflorescences, or flower clusters).

Olomea wood is particularly hard, and in ancient Hawai‘i was used to create fire through friction. This was done by rapidly rotating the olomea wood against a soft wood, such as hau (Talipariti tiliaceus).

The roughly pointed hard wood (olomea) used in this fire making process is known as ‘au lima, while the soft wood (hau) is known as ‘aunaki. According to Hawaiian legend, the olomea plant is one of the forms of Kamapua‘a, the pig god.

[Photograph: Olomea]

Olonā (Touchardia latifolia)

Endemic

Family: Urticaceae—Nettle Family

Olonā grows up to 13 feet (4 m) tall with few branches. The plant’s dark green leaves are 6 to 24 inches (15 to 62 cm) long and 2 to 8½ inches (5 to 22) cm wide with finely serrated margins. Olonā also produces small, roundish fruit.

Olonā is found on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i and the island of Hawai‘i in moist areas between 230 to 3,950 feet (70 to 1,200 m).

Olonā and hau (Talipariti tiliaceus) were the primary plants providing ancient Hawaiians with the fibers that were spun into the twine used for the lashings for sailing canoes and fishnets, as well as the bast (kae) for rope. They grew plots of olonā in wet upland areas, harvesting the plant after 1 to 1½ years.

Bark was stripped from 6 foot (1.8 m) stems of the plant, which were then put in running water for about two days. The strips of bark were then placed on a slanted board (papa olonā) and scraped with a tool known as an uhi, which was usually fashioned from turtle shell, or a piece of the turtle’s backbone.

The scraping away of the bark left many fine white fibers, which were then dried in the sun and twisted into cordage.

A fine olonā thread was also made from the fibers, and used for such tasks as repairing bowls made from ipu (Lagenaria siceraria, bottle gourds). Gourd bowls grow brittle as they age, and cracked bowls were repaired using a process known as pāhono.

Traditionally, a bone awl (kui iwi) was used to bore holes near the crack, and then the cracked area was sewn together.

The cordage that ancient Hawaiians made from the endemic olonā plant is considered not only the finest Hawaiian cordage, but also the finest cordage produced in all of the Pacific islands.

A Hawaiian proverb states: “Ua nīki‘i ‘ia i ke olonā o Honopū.” (“Tied fast with the olonā cord of Honopū.”), which was “said of a situation that is made fast. Honopū, Kaua‘i, was said to produce excellent olonā in ancient days.”[l]

Olonā was used to make the fine mesh nets used by plumage hunters to catch small endemic forest birds whose feathers were used in Hawaiian featherwork. Olonā cordage also used to construct these elaborate and distinctly Hawaiian items of featherwork, including royal capes and cloaks (‘ahu ‘ula) as well as crested warrior helmets (mahiole).

Olonā was used for lashing together composite hooks made of wood and bone that were used for catching various ocean creatures, including the he‘e (octopus) and manō (sharks). Olonā cordage was also used for the loops that held the covers on twined baskets.

Olanā’s strength and resistance to kinking made it the preferred twine for making fishing nets (‘upena) and for use with fishing net floats, which were often made from hau (Talipariti tiliaceus).

Ancient Hawaiians also used olonā for: sewing together clothing; constructing musical instruments (e.g., for sewing the drum head onto the base); and constructing flying kites (ho‘olele lupe).

Olonā was used to make the bow string used in the sport of pana ‘iole (bow and arrows), and for the wrist loop attached to the truncheon dagger, which was made from the wood of kauila (Colubrina oppositifolia).

Olonā was used for attaching bird feathers and dog or shark teeth to akua hulu (feathered gods), and for the cords attached to tripping weapons (pīkoi) that were made with a stone or wooden weight. These tripping weapons were used to trip the opponent, who was then attacked with a dagger.

[Photograph: Olonā]

Olopua (Nestegis sandwicensis)

Endemic

Family: Oleaceae—Olive Family

Also known in Hawaiian as pua, olopua may grow to more than 82 feet (25 m) tall but is usually considerably shorter. Olopua has long and narrow, leathery green leaves that are about 3 to 8½ inches (7.5 to 22 cm) long and from 1 to 2½ (2.5 to 6 cm) wide.

Olopua’s yellowish flowers grow in clusters at the leaf axils. The fruits are about ½-inch (13 mm) long, changing from greenish to bluish-black to brown as they mature.

The hard wood of olopua is dark brown and streaked with black. In ancient Hawai‘i the wood was valued for its strength, and used for constructing adze handles, spears, digging sticks and posts for houses. Olopua wood also was used as rasp used for making fish hooks, and valued as firewood because even the green wood burned hot.

Olopua prefers relatively dry forest habitats at middle and lower elevations from 100 to 4,250 feet (30 to 1,300 m) on all of the main Hawaiian Islands except Kaho‘olawe and Ni‘ihau.

[Photograph: Olopua]

Pa‘iniu (Astelia species)

Common Name: Native Lily

Endemic

Family: Liliaceae—Lily Family

A native lily, pa‘iniu may grow from the ground or may grow as an epiphyte unconnected to the ground, though it is not parasitic, instead deriving its food from the air and organic debris as well as from rainwater.

Pa‘iniu’s leaves are up to 63 inches (160 cm) long but relatively narrow, up to 2¾ inches (7 cm) wide, and covered with silvery scales, giving the leaves a silvery or tan color. The leaves usually have three prominent veins and grow in a rosette on a small stalk.

Pa‘iniu’s small yellow or greenish flowers are borne in a panicle and are covered with silvery scales. The plant also produces small orange fruits, and these berries contain several seeds.

Pa‘iniu is a relatively common plant in wet forest areas and bogs between 2,000 and 7,200 feet (600 to 2,200 m). The Hawaiian term pa‘iniu refers to three endemic Hawaiian species, including: A. argyrocoma, found on Kaua‘i; A. menziesiana, found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands, except Kaho‘olawe and Ni‘ihau; and A. waialealae, found near Kaua‘i’s Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale. Ancient Hawaiians used the leaves of pa‘iniu in lei.

[Photograph: Pa‘iniu]

Pala‘ā Fern (Sphenomeris chinensis)

Common Name: Lace Fern

Indigenous

Family: Lindsaeaceae—Lace Ferns

Known for its fine, lacy appearance, pala‘ā is a relatively common Hawaiian fern that is also found in Asia as well as other parts of Polynesia. In the Hawaiian Islands, pala‘ā grows at elevations up to about 4,000 feet (1,220 m).

The stems of pala‘ā are a burnt orange color and reach a height of about ½ to 1 foot (15 to 30 cm) with fronds up to 5 feet (1.5 m) long and about the same width. The fronds are subdivided three times, and are ovate in shape, coming to a point. One or two sori may be found near each division on the underside of the frond.

In ancient Hawai‘i, the pala‘ā fern was often braided or plaited into a lei using the hili (or hilo) method. The fronds were woven into lei for hula, used to adorn hula altars and sometimes woven with maile and used as an offering. The older fronds were also used to make a brownish-red dye.

Pala‘ā ferns are said to be an incarnation of the volcano goddess Pele’s younger sister, Hi‘iaka. According to legend, Hi‘iaka was protected from the large lizard-like mo‘o of Puna by her skirt of pala‘ā. Hi‘iaka trapped the mo‘o in a tangle of the ferns.

[Photograph: Pala‘ā Fern]

Palapalai (Microlepia strigosa)

Indigenous

Family: Dennstaedtiaceae—Hay-Scented Ferns

In ancient Hawai‘i, palapalai was an important hula fern used to adorn hula altars and dancers. Considered sacred to the hula goddess Laka, palapalai is mentioned in ancient chants, and today remains a valued hula fern sought after for use in lei making.

Palapalai’s bright green fronds and the fern’s midrib are covered with tiny hairs (the fern’s Latin name comes from striga, which means “short, bristle-like hair”). The fern usually grows from about 2 to 3 feet (.6 to .9 m) tall, with fronds that may reach 5 feet (1.5 m) in length. The fern’s spore capsules are clustered along the edges of the fronds.

Palapalai grows in wet, shady areas at elevations from 750 to 6,000 feet (230 to 1,825 m), and is also occasionally found in drier areas. The native Hawaiian fern ‘okupukupu (Nephrolepis exaltata) is also referred to as palapalai.

[Photograph: Palapalai Fern]

Pāpala (Charpentiera species)

Endemic

Family: Amaranthaceae—Amaranth Family

The Hawaiian term pāpala refers to five endemic Hawaiian species in the genus Charpentiera, including: C. densiflora, found on Kaua‘i’s Nāpali Coast; C. elliptica, found near Kaua‘i’s Kōke‘e area; C. obovata, found mostly in O‘ahu’s Wai‘anae Mountains but also found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands except Kaho‘olawe and Ni‘ihau; C. ovata, found in O‘ahu’s Ko‘olau Mountains and on Maui, Hawai‘i Island, and Moloka‘i; and C. tomentosa, found mostly in O‘ahu’s Wai‘anae Mountains.

Pāpala reaches a height of up to 39 feet (12 m), with leaves that are oblong to elliptical in shape and are up to 16 inches (40 cm) long. The leaves may be lightly covered with hair when young, and smooth when older. Small flowers grow in the leaf axils in panicles (branched inflorescences, or flower clusters) that are 4 to 20 inches (10 to 51 cm) long.

The wood of pāpala is light, and when dried the logs burn easily, particularly the pithy centers of the logs. These qualities made pāpala the preferred type of wood to be lit on fire and thrown off the cliffs of Mākua, Makana, and Kāmaile on Kaua‘i’s north coast as part of an ancient Hawaiian tradition known as the ‘ōahi (fire throwing) ceremony, which took place to celebrate special occasions.

A Hawaiian proverb states: Ka pali ‘ōahi o Makana. (The firebrand-hurling off the cliff of Makana.), which is explained to mean, Pāpala or hau wood was cut, thoroughly dried, and carried up the hillside to where an imu lay ready to be lighted. When dusk descended, the imu was lighted and the logs placed in it. When the blowing of the wind was just right, the lighted log was hurled into the wind and borne seaward, high over the heads of the spectators, before dropping into the sea.”[li]

Strong seaward winds carried the burning wood far out over the ocean, with the highly flammable pithy centers of the logs sending off a dazzling array of sparks to the delight of those who came to witness the event and participate in the ceremony.

People in canoes beneath the cliffs were considered heroic if they were able to catch the burning embers, and would sometimes tattoo themselves with the fiery logs to commemorate the event.

[Photograph: Pāpala]

Pāpala Kēpau (Pisonia species)

Endemic; Indigenous

Family: Nyctaginaceae—Four-O’Clock Family

Pāpala kēpau may reach a height of more than 98 feet (30 m), producing elongated fruits that emit a sticky sap (kēpau is the Hawaiian word for gum). This sticky sap was used to catch birds, which provided food as well as feathers used in Hawaiian featherwork.

Pāpala kēpau is the Hawaiian term that refers to the five native Hawaiian trees in the genus Nyctaginaceae, including: P. brunoniana, indigenous, and found on Hawai‘i Island, Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i and O‘ahu; P. grandis, indigenous, and rare in the Hawaiian Islands, found only on Lisianski Island (one tree); P. sandwicensis, endemic, and found on Hawai‘i Island, Maui, Moloka‘i, Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Moloka‘i; P. umbellifera, indigenous, and found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands except Kaho‘olawe and Ni‘ihau; and P. wagneriana, endemic to Kaua‘i, and found in mesic (moist) valleys only along Kaua‘i’s north and northwest shores.

P. sandwicensis, is also referred to by the Hawaiian name, āulu, and is an endemic soft-wooded tree that grows from 39 to 49 feet (12 to 15 m) tall, with dark green, oblong leaves that are about 4 to 11 inches (10 to 28 cm) long and 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) wide.

Āulu also produces sticky, narrow fruits, and is found in dry to mesic (moist) forest areas on Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i, Maui, Lāna‘i and O‘ahu, at middle elevation habitats from about 850 to 3,600 feet (260 to 1,100 m).

[Photograph: Pāpala kēpau—Pisonia wagneriana (endemic to Kaua‘i)]

Pā‘ū-o-Hi‘iaka (Jacquemontia ovalifolia)

Indigenous

Family: Convolvulaceae—Morning Glory Family

The name of this endemic Hawaiian beach vine means “Hi‘iaka’s skirt,” recalling the legend describing the time when the volcano goddess Pele left her baby sister, Hi‘iaka sleeping on the beach one morning and went fishing.

Rushing back later than she had planned, Pele was relieved when she realized that this coastal vine had grown over the baby and covered her like a blanket, protecting the baby from the heat of the midday sun.

A perennial herb, pā‘ū-o-Hi‘iaka is a low sprawling plant that favors relatively dry habitat, such as rocky or sandy beaches. The vines of pā‘ū-o-Hi‘iaka may exceed 10 feet (3 m) in length.

The leaves of pā‘ū-o-Hi‘iaka are relatively small, up to 2½ inches (6 cm) long and 1½ inches (3.5 cm) wide. The rounded leaves are thick and fleshy, and may be covered with whitish hairs. The leaves are often inverted, curved upwards on their outer edges.

A Hawaiian proverb states:E mālama i ka iki kanaka, i ka nu‘a kanaka. O kākou no kēia ho‘akua.” (Take care of the insignificant and the great man. That is the duty of us gods.”), which is explained to mean, Said by Hi‘iaka to Pele in a chant before she departed for Kaua‘i to seek Lohi‘au.”[lii]

Pā‘ū-o-Hi‘iaka flowers are about 1½-inch (13 mm) long, and white, light blue or purplish in color. The flowers are bell-shaped, blooming between December and July, with small brownish capsules that hold between one and four seeds.

Pā‘ū-o-Hi‘iaka roots and leaves were reportedly used as a food source in ancient Hawai‘i. Pā‘ū-o-Hi‘iaka also was used to prepare a medicinal treatment for ‘ea (thrush), particularly for treating mouth sores affecting children. The subspecies sandwicensis is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

[Photograph: Pā‘ū-o-Hi‘iaka]

Pili Grass (Heteropogon contortus)

Common Names: Twisted Beardgrass; Tanglehead.

Indigenous

Family: Poaceae—Grass Family

A relatively common grass in the tropics, pili grass grows in clumps up to about 3 feet (1 m) tall. Pili has bluish green leaf blades that are about ¼-inch (6mm) wide and 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm) long.

Each fertile spikelet is topped with a slender red-brown awn (bristle) that is from 2 to 4¾ inches (5 to 12 cm) long.

A Hawaiian proverb states: “Hū ka wai i ke pili.” (The water overflows to the pili grass.”), which is explained to mean, Said of anything that overflows its boundaries, including a person whose behavior goes beyond the bounds of propriety.”[liii]

Pili grass was an important plant used for home construction in ancient Hawai‘i, as well as for hula skirts. In ancient Hawai‘i, pili grass was sometimes offered to Laka on the hula altar. This offering was symbolic of the offerer’s desire for knowledge to cling to him or her (pili means “to cling or stick”).

Ancient Hawaiians used pili grass for various medicinal formulations, including as a treatment for ‘ea (see ‘Awa) and as a treatment for hānō (asthma) (see Mai‘a). Charcoal from the burned pili grass was used to make a black dye.

Pili grass was also used to line steep hills to create a slippery surface for he‘e hōlua (hōlua sledding), which involved using a specially constructed papa hōlua (wooden sleds) to slide down a hillside or a ramp slide constructed of stone.

Pili Grass Houses

Pili’s pleasant grass odor, straw color and warmth combined to make pili grass the preferred thatching material for houses in the Hawaiian Islands.

Pili grass houses (hale pili) were warmer than those thatched with hala (Pandanus tectorius, screwpine), leaves of niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut palm), or other materials that were commonly used for home construction in other parts of Polynesia, where the climate is generally warmer.

[Illustration or photograph: Pili grass house]

Pili was harvested by uprooting tufts of the grass, and then trimming off the roots and flowering spikes. Bunches of pili grass several layers thick were attached to a frame of wooden poles.

Thatching was done from the bottom of the house upward, so that each row overlapped the one below to deflect the rain. Along the roof ridge, a long strip of pili grass was attached, and then a pili bunch was placed at each end of the ridge. Lau hala mats (moena) were used on the floor of the house.

The preferred cornerposts of the house were made of uhiuhi (Caesalpinia kavaiensis), a tree also used for papa hōlua (wooden sleds), ihe (spears), and ‘ō‘ō (digging sticks).

Sometimes a central pillar of ‘ōhi‘a lehua (Metrosideros species) was erected. The pillar was known as a pou manu or halake‘a, and beneath the pillar a red weke (Mullidae, goatfish), kūmū (Parupeneus porphyreus, goatfish) or āholehole (Kuhlia sandvicensis, young stage of āhole, Hawaiian flagtail fish) was buried.

In drier areas, a pili grass house might last up to ten years. In particularly wet areas and for certain types of dwellings, other materials such as hala (Pandanus tectorius, screwpine) or niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut palm) were used instead of pili.

Various kinds of homes were constructed by the first Hawaiians, including the mua (eating house for men), the noa (the woman’s house), and the hale ‘aina (the eating house of the women).

Many other structures in ancient Hawai‘i had specific purposes, such as canoe sheds (hālau wa‘a). Heiau (sacred places of worship and refuge) were usually constructed of stone and often held sacred images of family ‘aumākua, personal or family gods that were considered personal or family guardians.

Pili grass grows on all of the main Hawaiian Islands at elevations up to about 2,300 feet (700 m). The grass grows most commonly on slopes and rocky cliffs, often in areas exposed to the ocean.

The Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition,[liv] lists pili grass as questionably indigenous, noting the possibility that pili grass is not native to the Hawaiian Islands, and was instead brought to the Islands by the early Polynesian settlers.

[Photograph: Pili Grass]

Pōhinahina (Vitex rotundifolia)

Common Name: Beach Vitex

Indigenous

Family: Verbenaceae—Verbena Family

Pōhinahina is an aromatic, low-growing beach shrub, usually not exceeding 2 feet (60 cm) in height with light green, roundish to oval-shaped leaves that are about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) long, and grow opposite one another. The leaves are covered both above and beneath with tiny hairs, which give the plant a downy, grayish appearance.

Pōhinahina’s small flowers bloom in the summer, varying in color from blue to purple and growing in small clusters at the branch tips. Pōhinahina also produces roundish, dark red to black fruits that are about 1/4th inch (6 mm) in diameter.

Pōhinahina is also known in Hawaiian as kolokolo kahakai, which translates literally to “beach creeper.” A sand binder, pōhinahina has been planted along Maui’s Kā‘anapali beachwalk and other seaside resort areas. Pōhinahina was once more common along coastlines and coastal dune areas, many of which are now developed.

[Photograph: Pōhinahina]

Pōhuehue (Ipomoea pes-caprae subspecies brasiliensis)

Common Name: Beach Morning Glory

Indigenous

Family: Convolvulaceae—Morning Glory Family

Pōhuehue is a beach variety of morning glory that is a perennial and hardy seashore vine.

Pōhuehue has reddish-pink, bell-shaped flowers and smooth, wide leaves that are light green and roundish. The leaves are about 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) long, slightly wider than long, somewhat heart-shaped and notched at the tip, giving them a “goat’s foot” appearance. The leaf blades often become folded upward along the midrib, the center vein.

Pōhuehue’s bell-shaped flowers vary in color from pink to purple, with a white-flowered form found on Hawai‘i Island and O‘ahu. The plant’s common name, beach morning glory, refers to the fact that most of pōhuehue’s flowers open in the morning.

Pōhuehue also produces small fruit capsules that are smooth and roundish, and contain four downy (hairy) dark-colored seeds. The seeds are saltwater-tolerant, explaining why the plant is found along many sandy Hawaiian beaches above the high-tide line.

Pōhuehue’s plant’s scientific genus name Ipomoea means “worm-like,” referring to the plant’s twining growth, while the species name pes-caprae means, “goat’s foot,” referring to pōhuehue’s cleft leaves.

The vines, or runners of pōhuehue may extend to more than 100 feet (30 m), sending down secondary roots at the nodes. The vines grow from a thick taproot that may exceed 16 feet (5 m). The young vines of pōhuehue are fleshy, becoming tougher and woodier with age.

Pōhuehue grows on all of the main Hawaiian Islands as well as several of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The vines grow mostly on or very near beaches above the high-water mark. Pōhuehue also grows inland, though less commonly, and may be found at elevations up to about 1,500 feet (460 m).

Traditional Uses of Pōhuehue

Pōhuehue vines were used by ancient Hawaiians to push fish into their nets. This was done by slapping the vines down onto the surface of the water within the net. Strands of the pōhuehue vines were also slapped down onto the water to bring waves for surfing.

Pōhuehue was associated with sorcery, in that lashing the sea with a piece of the vine and saying the right words was said to be able to bring rough waters that would kill one’s intended victim at sea. This belief about the plant led to a more general connotation associated with the plant, that of wishing great difficulties on another.

A Hawaiian proverb states: “E kā i ka pōhuehue.” (“Smite with the pōhuehue.”), which is explained to mean, “Do harm to another in order to destroy him.”[lv]

The roots of the plant were also cooked and eaten in times of famine, though apparently only in small amounts, since the plant may be poisonous if consumed in significant amounts.

Medicinal Uses of Pōhuehue

Small amounts of the pōhuehue’s seeds, stems and roots were used for various medicinal purposes in ancient Hawai‘i. Pōhuehue leaves were mixed with pa‘akai (sea salt) and used as a dressing to treat sprains.

A medicinal formulation to clean the blood involved mashing and mixing the taproot of pōhuehue with the bark of taproot of ‘uhaloa (Waltheria indica); bark of ‘ahakea (Bobea species); half-dried inner flesh of the trunk of the hāpu‘u tree fern (Cibotium species); stalk of ‘auko‘i (Cassia occidentalis); kō honua‘ula (Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane); koki‘o (Hibiscus kokio, native red hibiscus), and ripe fruit of noni (Morinda citrifolia, Indian mulberry).

Placed in an ipu (Lagenaria siceraria, bottle gourd) with spring water and heated rocks, this mixture was cooked and then cooled, squeezed and strained to produce a liquid that was placed in a particularly long-necked ipu.

A mouthful of this medicinal preparation was consumed before eating, three times per day. Also consumed with this medication was tea made from ko‘oko‘olau (Bidens species).

Another medicinal formulation made with pōhuehue was used to treat someone who had lung problems and high fever, a condition known as consumption.

The preparation involved mashing taproots of pōhuehue with the roots, stems and leaves of hinahina (Heliotropium anomalum var. argenteum) along with ashes from burnt naio (Myoporum sandwicense, bastard sandalwood). Spring water was added and the mixture was heated using stones in an ipu (Lagenaria siceraria, bottle gourd).

The afflicted person then inhaled the steam. This was done each morning for five days, at which time the person was given koali ‘awa (Ipomoea indica, morning glory).

Also mashed into the mixture (in post-contact times) was the stalk of a non-native kīkānia (Xanthium strumarium) with its leaves, flowers, leaf buds, and taproot (but not the plant’s burs).

[Photograph: Pōhuehue]

Pōpolo (Solanum americanum)

Common Name: Glossy Nightshade

Questionably Indigenous.

Family: Solanaceae—Nightshade Family

Growing in moist forest areas as well as in coastal areas, pōpolo is usually less than 4 feet (1.2 m) tall, with small white flowers tinted with lavender and purple.

Pōpolo’s smooth, ovate (egg-shaped) leaves are about 2½ inches (6 cm) long and 1¼ inches (3 cm) wide, growing alternate one another. The young stems and leaves of pōpolo are coated with tiny, multiple-branching hairs.

Pōpolo is an edible herb that also produces juicy, edible fruits that are about 3/8 inch (10 mm) in diameter. The young leaves and shoots of pōpolo were eaten by the ancient Hawaiians as a general food source, and the plant also had various medicinal and ceremonial uses. It is also referred to as Kāne-pōpolo, and is considered a sacred manifestation of the god Kāne.

Pōpolo’s glossy black berries (hua pōpolo) fall from the plant when ripe and contain many tiny seeds. Hua pōpolo were among the few edible native berries, along with the berries of ‘ōhelo (Vaccinium species), naupaka kahakai (Scaevola sericea, beach naupaka), and ‘ūlei (Osteomeles anthyllidifolia, Hawaiian hawthorn).

Pōpolo berries also were used by the ancient Hawaiians to produce a black-purple dye, and the leaves were used for a green dye.

Medicinal Uses of Pōpolo

Ancient Hawaiians treated wounds by applying pōpolo leaves that had been pounded with pa‘akai (sea salt).

A treatment for hānō (asthma) was prepared using the bark of pōpolo taproots along with the plant’s flowers, leaf buds, and older leaves. This was pounded and mashed together with ripe noni (Morinda citrifolia, Indian mulberry), flesh of niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut), and kō kea (Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane).

The macerated ingredients were squeezed and strained, heated with stones in an ipu (Lagenaria siceraria, bottle gourd), and then cooled and consumed repeatedly in the morning and evening, along with dried mai‘a (Musa species: maoli and iho lena varieties), as well as the water of niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut).

A medicine for abdominal problems was prepared by mashing pōpolo taproot with bark of ‘ōhi‘a ‘ai (Eugenia malaccense, mountain apple) and kō kea (Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane), along with limu ‘ele‘ele kai (Enteromorpha prolifera) that had previously been mixed with water.

The complete mixture was then cooked with hot stones in a calabash, cooled, squeezed, strained and consumed in the morning and evening for five days, along with plenty of tea made with ko‘oko‘olau (Bidens species). Following this treatment, a purgative was consumed.

A treatment for a cold required wrapping pōpolo leaves in kī leaves and steaming them, and then removing the pōpolo leaves and eating them on five consecutive evenings.

Pōpolo had various other medicinal uses in ancient Hawai‘i, including as part of a treatment for: tuberculosis (see Mai‘a); chest pain (see Hala); chest congestion (see Hau); and ‘ea (thrush) (see ‘Ilima). Pōpolo was also used as part of a general tonic (see ‘Uhaloa).

Pōpolo remains valued for its medicinal qualities. Young leaves steeped with pa‘akai (sea salt) are eaten as an aid to digestion. The berry juice and the leaf sap are consumed for respiratory ailments, and rubbing pōpolo leaves on the stomach is said to aid indigestion.

Pōpolo grows on all of the main Hawaiian Islands as well as several of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Aside from a significant population at Mo‘omomi, Moloka‘i, pōpolo is becoming increasingly rare on the main Hawaiian Islands.

There is still some question as to whether pōpolo is indeed indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands, rather than introduced by humans. The discovery of seeds in a Mauna Kea adze quarry, which had been abandoned before Cook’s arrival in 1778, supports the case that pōpolo is native to the Hawaiian Islands.

[Photograph: Pōpolo]

Pōpolo Kū Mai (Phytolacca sandwicensis)

Common Name: Hawaiian Pokeberry

Endemic

Family: Phytolaccaceae—Pokeweed Family

Pōpolo kū mai is an endemic rainforest shrub with dark-purple berries, ovate leaves and small flowers that vary in color from rose to pink, or occasionally white.

The plant may reach a height of up to 13 feet (4 m) with leaves that are (8 to 22 cm) long and 1½ to 3½ inches (4 to 9 cm) wide. Ancient Hawaiians used the berries of pōpolo kū mai to produce a dark purple dye.

While over 80% of endemic Hawaiian species are originally derived from Southeast Asian or Pacific species, pōpolo kū mai is one of the relatively few endemic Hawaiian species derived from a species from America.

Pōpolo kū mai grows in mesic (moist) to wet forest habitat at elevations from 1,650 to 6,550 feet (500 to 2,000 m) on Hawai‘i Island, Moloka‘i, Maui, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.

[Photograph: Pōpolo kū mai]

Pua Kala (Argemone glauca)

Common Name: Prickly Poppy

Endemic

Family: Papaveraceae—Poppy Family

Pua kala means “thorny flower,” and its stiff and fragile toothed leaves and coarse fruit make it a prickly plant. An annual poppy, pua kala grows up to 5 feet (1.5 m) in height, with a silvery grayish appearance. The leaves are about 6 inches (15 cm) long and about 3½ inches (9 cm) wide.

Pua kala also produces flowers for much of the year. The flowers grow at the tips of the branches and consist of six delicate, white petals that form a corolla about 3 inches (7.6 cm) across, with orange stamens in the center surrounding a red-tipped pistil.

Two varieties of pua kala are known, including: A. glauca var. decipiens, which is found only on arid areas of the island of Hawai‘i from 2,000 to 6,000 feet (600 to 1,800 m); and A. glauca var. glauca, found at elevations below 1,700 feet (520 m) on all of the main Hawaiian Islands. Both varieties are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

Pua kala prefers relatively dry habitat, on leeward slopes and may grow on rocky and exposed lower mountain terrain and open woodland areas. Pua kala’s prickly seed capsules are about 1¼ to 2¼ inches (3 to 6 cm) long. The seed capsules break open when mature, releasing fire-resistant seeds that may sprout on burned ground.

The unripe fruit of pua kala produces a yellowish juice that was used by the ancient Hawaiians as a pain reliever and also to alleviate stomach problems. Though pua kala was used as a treatment for general pain, the plant contains no codeine or morphine as does the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum).

The stem, sap and seeds of pua kala all had medicinal uses. The yellow sap of the fruit capsules and seeds was used to treat toothaches and ulcers. Pua kala’s sap was also used as a treatment for warts.

[Photograph: Pua kala]

Pu‘e (Galeatella kauaensis)

Common Name: Bog Lobelia

Endemic

Family: Campanulaceae—Bellflower Family

Pu‘e are rare and endangered endemic bog lobelias that inhabit the extremely wet, misty alpine bogs of Kaua‘i at elevations between 2,100 and 5,150 feet (640 to 1,570 m). The stem of the plant may rise to a height of about 6.5 feet (2 m) with leaves that are about 7 inches (18 cm) long, but quite narrow, growing in tufts.

Pu‘e’s large, curved flowers are whitish and streaked with purple, emanating from three or four racemes (unbranched inflorescences, or flower clusters). An endangered species, pu‘e is particularly vulnerable to destruction by feral pigs. The status of pu‘e remains precarious.

Note: Lobelia kauaensis was reclassified as Galeatella kauaensis in the Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i,[lvi] along with other significant classification changes within the Campanulaceae family.

All 13 endemic species formerly considered part of the Lobelia genus are now classified either as Galeatella or Neowimmeria. (Note: Three of these species and one subspecies are on the endangered species list.)

This replacement of the Lobelia genus with Galeatella and Neowimmeria was based on molecular analyses revealing that all native Hawaiian species in the Campanulaceae family derived from a single ancestor.

Both Galeatella and Neowimmeria belong to the Lobelioideae subfamily of Campanulaceae, which includes some of the most beautiful native Hawaiian flowers.

Recent molecular analyses (see Introduction to Native Plants and Ferns of the Hawaiian Islands) have shown that more than 120 endemic species in the Lobelioideae subfamily evolved from just one original colonizing plant.

Unfortunately, more than 25% of the endemic Lobelioideae species in the Hawaiian Islands have become extinct since 1778 when Captain Cook first arrived in the Hawaiian Islands beginning the period of Western contact that brought various threats to native Hawaiian species.

[Photograph: Lobelia]

Pūkiawe (Styphelia tameiameiae)

Indigenous

Family: Epacridaceae—Epacris Family

Pūkiawe is a small, low-growing shrub with tiny, white bell-shaped flowers. The plant may grow to 15 feet (4.5 m) tall, but is usually only from 3 to 6.5 feet (1 to 2 meters) tall. The slender, oblong leaves of pūkiawe are about 1/3-inch (8.5 mm) long and 1/6 inch (4 mm) wide, smooth on top but whitish underneath from tiny hairs known as bloom. Tiny 5-parted flowers grow in the leaf axils.

Pūkiawe is perhaps best known for its small round fruits, which are about 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3 to 6 mm) in diameter. The berries are pink, red, or reddish-white in color and relatively dry. A staple food of the nēnē (Branta sandvicensis, Hawaiian goose), the berries of pūkiawe are not eaten by humans.

In ancient Hawai‘i, the narrow leathery leaves of pūkiawe had various medicinal uses. One of these uses was as a palliative for headaches and colds. The smoke of burning pūkiawe wood was used for ceremonial purposes including fumigating the deceased.

When ali‘i, the royalty) of ancient Hawai‘i, wanted to mingle with common people, they would first go into a smokehouse filled with the smoke of pūkiawe as a priest chanted the proper prayer allowing dispensation.

Pūkiawe’s colorful fruit was strung into lei, as were the leaves. The wood was also used for making kua kuku, the kapa-beating anvils that were used in the second-stage beatings while making kapa (tapa) barkcloth.

Pūkiawe grows in relatively dry forest areas as well as alpine shrubland and bogs at elevations up to 3,200 feet (975 m). The plant grows at higher elevations above the treeline than any other woody plants.

Pūkiawe may also grow in lava flow areas (e.g., cinder deserts near Kīlauea Volcano), where the plant grows taller and pricklier than in forest habitat.

Two varieties of pūkiawe are distinguished, including: S. tameiameiae var. brownii, found in bog areas and subalpine shrubland on Hawai‘i Island, Lāna‘i, Maui, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i; and S. tameiameiae var. tameiameiae, found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands except Kaho‘olawe and Ni‘ihau.

The Hawaiian word pūkiawe also refers to the non-native, climbing legume known as the black-eyed Susan (Abrus precatorius). (See Pūkiawe in Seed Lei section, Chapter 3.)

[Photograph: Pūkiawe]

‘Uhaloa (Waltheria indica)

Questionably Indigenous (possibly Polynesian-introduced, see Introduction to Chapter 9)

Family: Sterculiaceae—Cacao Family

‘Uhaloa is a shrubby plant growing up to 6½ feet (2 m) tall, with oval-shaped leaves covered with short, velvety hairs. The leaves are from 1 to 5 inches (2.5 to 13 cm) long, and 1 to 2½ inches (2.5 to 6 cm) wide, with toothed margins and prominent veins.

‘Uhaloa produces small yellow, 5-petaled flowers that grow in clusters at the axils of the leaves. ‘Uhaloa also produces tiny capsule-like fruits, each about 1/8 inch (3 mm) long and divided into two valves.

Each valve contains a single seed. ‘Uhaloa grows on all of the main Hawaiian Islands as well as on Midway Atoll, at elevations up to 4,000 feet (1,220 m).

A Hawaiian proverb states, “Aia i kula i ka ‘ala‘alapūloa.” (“Gone on the plain to gather ‘ala‘alapūloa.”), which is explained to mean, “Gone on a wild goose chase. A play on ‘ala‘ala (octopus liver), meaning nothing worthwhile. ‘Ala‘alapūloa is another name for the weed commonly known as ‘uhaloa.”[lvii]

Medicinal Uses of ‘Uhaloa

Medical kāhuna (experts) referred to ‘uhaloa as kanakaloa, which means “tall person.” The leaves of ‘uhaloa are bitter, as is the root bark. Both parts of the plant were used for tea, and chewed to alleviate a sore throat.

The plant’s aspirin-like qualities made it valued medicinally in ancient Hawai‘i. The sap was the valued ingredient, so after the taproot (with bark removed) was chewed, the fibers were spit out.

A general tonic was prepared by mashing together ‘uhaloa leaves, flowers, leaf buds and root bark, along with leaves of pōpolo (Solanum americanum, glossy nightshade), flesh of niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut), ripe fruit of noni (Morinda citrifolia, Indian mulberry), and kō kea (Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane).

This mash was then strained, and the resulting liquid was heated, cooled, and consumed while lying face down. As part of the treatment, mai‘a iholena (Musa species, banana) and water of niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut) were also consumed. Each dose was prepared anew, twice a day, for a total of five treatments.

A treatment for hānō (asthma) involved mixing, mashing and straining ‘uhaloa bark, leaves, leaf buds, taproot and flowers of kī (Cordyline fruticosa, ti), pohepohe (Hydrocotyle verticillata), dried flesh of niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut), ripe fruit of noni (Morinda citrifolia, Indian mulberry), ‘ala‘ala wai nui pehu (Peperomia species), aerial root tips of hala (Pandanus tectorius, screwpine) and kō kea (Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane).

The resulting liquid was heated and cooled, and then consumed while lying down, once a day for five days. ‘Uhaloa was also used in various other asthma treatments (see Niu, Ko‘oko‘olau, Mai‘a, and ‘Uala sections).

‘Uhaloa was used in preparations for cleaning the blood (see Pōhuehue) as well as for ‘ea (thrush) and other diseases affecting children (see ‘Ōhi‘a ‘Ai and ‘Ilima sections). ‘Uhaloa was also used in treatments for chest congestion (see Hau) and chest pain (see Hala).

According to Hawaiian legend, ‘uhaloa is one of the forms taken by the pig demigod Kamapua‘a,

[Photograph: ‘Uhaloa]

‘Uki‘Uki (Dianella sandwicensis)

Indigenous

Family: Liliaceae—Lily Family

‘Uki‘uki is a short-stemmed perennial herb that usually grows to about 2 feet (60 cm) tall but may reach a height of 6½ feet (2 m). The lengthy but narrow leaves of ‘uki‘uki grow from 1 to 3.3 feet (30 to 100 cm) long and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, and may be leathery in texture. The flowers of ‘uki‘uki are white or white-blue, growing on a short, erect stem in branching clusters.

The leaves of ‘uki‘uki were used by ancient Hawaiians for house thatching, and the fruit (berries), which are a dark, translucent blue-purple to sky blue in color, were used by ancient Hawaiians to produce a purple-blue dye for kapa (tapa) barkcloth.

The blue dye was produced by adding lime. Ancient Hawaiians also used ‘uki‘uki’s leaves to make cordage, including a 3-ply braided cordage used for lashing limbs together when building houses, as well as for attaching the bundles of pili used for thatching.

‘Uki‘uki prefers relatively dry to mesic (moist) forest areas where it inhabits the undergrowth. ‘Uki‘uki also grows in wetter forests as well as on lava flow areas. It grows on all of the main Hawaiian Islands except Kaho‘olawe and Ni‘ihau, at elevations from 400 to 7,000 feet (120 to 2,130 m).

[Photograph: ‘Uki‘uki]

‘Ūlei (Osteomeles anthyllidifolia)

Common Name: Hawaiian Hawthorn

Indigenous

Family: Rosaceae—Rose Family

‘Ūlei is a low-spreading shrub that prefers dry areas, but grows in a variety of habitats and elevations. The plant may reach a height of 9¾ feet (3 m).

‘Ūlei’s small compound leaves may be hairy on the underside and glossy above. New leaves are particularly silvery due to their silky hairs, and then they become smoother as they age.

Each leaf is comprised of from 15 to 25 leaflets, about 2/3 inch (1.7 cm) long, growing in pairs with one leaf at the tip.

‘Ūlei’s small, white flowers are about ½-inch (13 mm) in diameter. The flowers are rose-like with five petals and five sepals as well as numerous stamens. They grow in clusters at the branch tips.

‘Ūlei grows in many different Hawaiian habitats, including dry to moist forest areas, open lava fields, and along coastal cliffs. ‘Ūlei are found from near sea level up to about 7,550 feet (2,300 m).

The fruits of ‘ūlei are small and round, about 2/5 inch (10 mm) in diameter, and white to purple in color with a sweet pulp and five hard, yellowish seeds.

The fruits of ‘ūlei were among the few edible native Hawaiian berries providing food to the ancient Hawaiians. The fruits were also strung into lei, and were used as a purple to lavender colored dye for kapa barkcloth.

Ancient Hawaiians also used the hard wood of ‘ūlei for various purposes. ‘Ūlei was used to make javelins used in the games of pahe‘e and moa. The wood was also used to make fish spears, bows, and digging sticks (‘ō‘ō).

‘Ūlei wood also was used to make light spears for catching octopus (he‘e). Fishnet hoops were made from ‘ūlei by bending the plant’s long, flexible branches.

A Hawaiian proverb states: He ‘ūlei kolo.” (A creeping ‘ūlei.”), which is explained to mean, An expression applied to a tough, strong person. The wood of the ‘ūlei plant is very strong and was used as a fishing spear in olden times.”[lviii]

Another use for the ‘ūlei wood was in the construction of the musical instrument known in Hawaiian as the ‘ūkēkē, which is a wooden bow, about 1½ inches (4 cm) wide and 16 to 24 inches (40 to 60 cm) long with three strings (sometimes two).

The ‘ūkēkē was the only stringed instrument of ancient Hawai‘i. The strings of the ‘ūkēkē are strummed while the player’s mouth is used as a resonance chamber. The ‘ūkēkē produces a speech-like sound, though no noise is made by the player’s vocal cords.

[Photograph or Illustration: Picture of ‘ūkēkē made from ‘ūlei]

[Photograph: ‘Ūlei]

Uluhe (Dicranopteris linearis)

Common Name: False Staghorn Fern

Indigenous

Family: Gleicheniaceae

Uluhe is a creeping fern with repeatedly forking fronds that grow as long as 15 feet (4.6 m). Uluhe grows in dense thickets that may be more than 6½ (2 m) deep. When climbing over shrubs and trees the fern reaches heights up to 20 feet (6 m).

The uluhe fern’s pinnae (leaf divisions) are 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 cm) long by about 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) wide, and divided into lobes that are about ½-inch (13 mm) wide. The lower surface of the pinnae may be covered with a brownish to rusty-colored hairs as well as the black spots that are the spore pockets (sori).

Uluhe grows at elevations up to about 5,500 feet (1,680 m), generally preferring open areas and not as common in shady areas.

Another native fern known as uluhe is Sticherus owhyensis is similar to Dicranopteris linearis but is a bit larger and more sprawling. It also grows at middle elevations, but is not as common as Dicranopteris linearis, and is not found at lower elevations.

Sticherus owhyensis fronds may reach a length of about 7 feet (2.6 m) with branches about 4 feet (1.2 m) long. The pinnae of Dicranopteris linearis grow only on the forked divisions, while the pinnae of Sticherus owhyensis continue for the entire length of the fern’s stalk.

The species Diploterygium pinnatum is known as uluhe lau nui. Quite distinct from uluhe, Diploterygium pinnatum forks only once or twice on the stalk.

Uluhe lau nui also has larger divisions, each about 2 feet (61 cm), on stalks that are about 3 feet (90 cm) long. Uluhe lau nui is also paler green in color and has more finely divided leaflets than uluhe.

In ancient Hawai‘i, tea made from uluhe was used for its laxative properties.

[Photograph: Uluhe]

Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis)

Common Name: Hawaiian Coral Tree

Endemic

Family: Fabaceae—Pea Family

Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, the wiliwili tree usually has a short, thick trunk, often twisted and somewhat thorny (the thorns diminish with age), and covered with a papery, reddish-tan bark.

The wiliwili tree may exceed 49 feet (15 m) in height with branches that are often quite gnarled. Wiliwili’s short, broad (ovate) leaves are about 1½ to 4 inches (4 to 10 cm) long by 2½ to 6 inches (6 to 15 cm) wide, with three leaflets. The leaves are light green in color.

Wiliwili is a deciduous tree that loses its leaves in the dry season (summer), when flowers adorn the tree’s bare branches. The flowers of the wiliwili tree may vary from creamy green to orangish-apricot colored, red-orange, chartreuse, yellow, or white, growing in clusters at the branch tips. New leaves grow in spring after the flowers open.

A Hawaiian proverb states: Ka wiliwili o Kaupe‘a” (The wiliwili grove of Kaupe‘a”), which is explained to mean, In ‘Ewa, O‘ahu. Said to be where homeless ghosts wander among the trees.”[lix]

The name wiliwili means, “twisting,” which refers to the twisting action of the tree’s seedpods as they release 1 to 3 red to yellowish-orange, oblong seeds.

Ancient Hawaiians strung the wiliwili’s bright-colored seeds into lei, and the flowers were also used for lei. The soft, light wood of the wiliwili tree was traditionally used to make surfboards (papa he‘e nalu), fishnet floats and outriggers for canoes.

Wiliwili was once widespread on all of the main Hawaiian Islands, growing mostly on the drier (leeward) sides of the islands in dry coastal forests and on lava plains and grassy hillsides. Wiliwili prefers lower elevations up to about 2,000 feet (610 m).

Various non-native Erythrina species now grow in the Hawaiian Islands, and are also referred to by the name wiliwili. Only Erythrina sandwicensis is native to the Hawaiian Islands.



[i] p. 69, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 507.

[ii] p. 259, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2375.

[iii] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[iv] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[v] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[vi] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[vii] p. 192, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1785.

[viii] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[ix] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[x] p. 288, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2625.

[xi] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[xii] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[xiii] p. 285, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2588.

[xiv] p. 66, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 568.

[xv]p. 187, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1744.

[xvi] p. 148, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1361.

[xvii] p. 38, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 312.

[xviii] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[xix] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[xx] p. 176, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1631.

[xxi] p. 45, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 365.

[xxii] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[xxiii] p. 78, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 703.

[xxiv] p. 219, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2032.

[xxv] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[xxvi] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[xxvii] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[xxviii] p. 188, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1756.

[xxix] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[xxx] Burney, David A., James, Helen F., Burney, Lida Pigott, Olson, Storrs L., Kikuchi, William, Wagner, Warren L., Burney, Mara, McCloskey, Deirdre, Kikuchi, Delores, Grady, Frederick V., Gage II, Reginald, and Nishek, Robert. Fossil evidence for a diverse biota from Kaua‘i and its transformation since human arrival. Ecological Monographs, 71 (4), 2001, pp. 615-641.

[xxxi] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[xxxii] p. 149, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1368.

[xxxiii] p. 282, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2658.

[xxxiv] p. 145, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1332.

[xxxv] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[xxxvi] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[xxxvii] p. 157, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1453.

[xxxviii] p. 236, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2176.

[xxxix] p. 193, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1797.

[xl] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[xli] p. 237, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2184.

[xlii] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[xliii] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[xliv] p. 162, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1501.

[xlv] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[xlvi] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[xlvii] p. 222, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2044.

[xlviii] p. 246, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2253.

[xlix] p. 192, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1784.

[l] p. 310, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2833.

[li] p. 165, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1532.

[lii] p. 42, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 344.

[liii] p. 121, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1134.

[liv] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[lv] p. 38, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 313.

[lvi] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[lvii] p. 8, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 49.

[lviii] p. 102, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 956.

[lix] p. 189, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1666.