Hawaiian Plants

26

Hawaii is home to abundant indigenous plants only to this island nation, brought here by wind, ocean currents, or bird flight.

Oahu’s Aikiahala can be found in lowland dry forests and higher elevations, where it is listed as endangered. Cultural uses for Akiahala include making Kapa cloth and seeded lei.

Ohi’a Lehua

Ohi’a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) is one of the most diverse native Hawaiian trees, known as “many forms.” It can be found throughout Hawaii’s rainforest at various elevations, from dry scrublands to mountain tops – the name itself denotes this variety. It is a dominant canopy tree within rainforest ecosystems at all elevations throughout its territory and microclimates, from dry scrublands to mountain ridges.

Owing to its unique characteristics, ohi’a stands out among tropical trees by its adaptability; it thrives in soil types ranging from basalt lava flows to older terrane formations and even highly acidic volcanic deposits containing up to one thousand times as many nutrients as soil. Ohi’a often appears first after fresh lava has been spread on Hawaii and quickly forms the base of young forests where its shade provides shelter and protection.

Ohi’a lehua trees provide shade and habitat for many native animals living in wet forests, while birds feed off its sweet nectar of red blossoms while collecting insects from bark and leaves. Ohi’a canopies catch mists and rainwater to replenish island aquifers.

Wood from ohi’a lehua trees is dense, durable, and robust – ideal for early Hawaiians who used it to fashion kapa beaters, poi pounding boards, and structures from this resource. Additionally, its vivid red flower and young leaf buds were often used for making lei for May Day or Lei Day festivities.

Ohi’a trees are keystone species of the Hawaiian rainforest, providing shelter and food for birds (such as honeycreepers), insects, snails, and reptiles that call Hawaii home. Furthermore, this unique tree offers vital water and food sources for microorganisms that break down dead material in our lush forest environment. Ohi’a lehua’s canopies also catch rainwater and mist that recharge island aquifers and our wetland ecosystems, making Ohi’a an essential component in Hawaii’s natural and cultural landscape! Ohi’a can be found throughout all Hawaiian Islands as it is integral to Hawaii’s cultural fabric!

Uki Uki

Uki is an attractive groundcover that grows slowly, filling out gradually over time, and should be kept looking nice by periodically trimming and thinning it to maintain its beautiful appearance. It thrives in mesic zones and tolerates various weather conditions – including drought. Easy to grow and container friendly, Uki Uki makes a striking addition to any landscape with white to blue blooms and fruit used to dye Kapa cloth, while Native Hawaiians used its leaves as cordage or thatch houses.

Ukiuki is a perennial flowering forb/herb from Dianella that’s unique to Hawaii, native and perennial, found mainly in moist environments like marshes, ponds, and streams, or wet forests; hardy yet low-growing, this native species stands as proof that Hawaii’s indigenous plant population remains.

Ukiuki flowers range from light to dark blue in hue, featuring orange filaments. In full bloom year-round, sukiyaki makes an eye-catching feature in any garden space and pairs well with other ornamental grasses and sedges. Clump division or propagation by seed are options available for propagating this attractive perennial.

The Ukiuki plant was named in honor of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma; its Hawaiian name means “excited heart,” while its sweet fragrance nods to these iconic figures. Perfect for containers or ground cover in wet environments where other plants cannot thrive, Ukiuki thrives best with full sun or partial shade exposure; once planted, it should be watered regularly before scaling back on frequency afterward. Remove brown leaves or spent blooms as necessary for best results.

Haha

The haha plant, native to Hawaii and a popular houseplant, produces gorgeous variegated foliage in shades of green, pink, purple, and black, along with lavender-colored summer blooms. Easy propagation makes these tropical shrubs popular choices for indoor and outdoor decoration alike – this makes propagation easy, too! Plus, they tolerate diverse climate conditions well, hardy even against frost!

Roots rich in nutrients and fruit that birds love make this plant popular throughout its range. You may have encountered it growing near streams or rivers. Reforestation projects could use it as an alternate option due to its ability to thrive in moist conditions; additionally, it serves as an excellent groundcover alternative and a great replacement for the invasive strawberry guava!

Numerous factors are contributing to the decline of native Hawaiian plants, including clearing land for agriculture, introducing non-native plants and animals, wildfires, insect damage, and some species being driven to extinction. Therefore, we must learn about and protect these unique species, using sustainable practices on trails and participating in workdays to outplant or remove invasive species like strawberry guava, miconia, or kumu kala from native forests.

To keep the vibrant coloration of your ti plant vibrant, ensure it receives indirect sunlight in a well-lit area. This will prevent its leaves from drying out or losing color; direct sunlight should be avoided to avoid scorch marks on their leaves. During colder months, try wrapping it in fleece. Alternatively, consider moving it indoors or placing it in a greenhouse if this option does not protect it sufficiently from winter elements.

A’ali’i

A’ali’i is well known for its wind tolerance, making it a hardy shrub that thrives from dry coastal lowland areas to wet-mesic forests. It is a popular choice in restoration work and excellent for xeriscaping as it proliferates with minimal water requirements once established; furthermore, its drought tolerance makes it perfect for use on lava fields.

A’ali’i is an exceptionally hardy and adaptable plant and makes an excellent ornamental shrub or small tree. In ancient Hawaii, its wood was used to construct house posts, canoes, and spears; its leaves boiled in water were used as red kapa dye, while its flowers were often used to make beautiful lei.

The A’ali’i plant is native to Hawaii and can be found throughout its islands in dry coastal lowland areas. It is an effective shrub for restoration projects in challenging habitats and has even pioneered many new lava fields! Drought-, wind- and salt-resistant, it requires very little water for its care – making it the ideal candidate for growing on lava fields where intense sun exposure and windiness prevail.

There are various varieties of A’ali’i. One popular variety is Ti Leaf A’ali’i, featuring dark green leaves with yellow flowers. Another variant, Alua A’ali’i, has dark green, elliptic leaves topped by yellow blooms for an altogether unique appearance.

A’ali’i are an integral part of Hawaiian culture. At first, they may have been hereditary high chiefs; as the kingdom expanded, other classes of a’alii were created, such as kaukaualii (commoners). A kaukaualii is someone descended from lower-ranking nobility who married into aristocracy if their parent died before them and, in turn, become descendants themselves when the kingdom ended in 1893 with a coup d’etat backed by the United States overthrowing the monarchy. Consequently, none could replace the Aalii because the monarchy had already been destroyed through a coup d’etat supported by American soldiers before they were replaced.