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Hula Plant Photo of the Day: ‘Ie ‘ie

March 31, 2013
Native ‘ie ‘ie vine.

Native ‘ie ‘ie offers a provocative bloom. Photo: Jessica Ferracane.

Aloha, and Happy Easter Sunday! Today is the first day of the 50th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival. To honor the art of hula, Hawai ‘i Volcanoes National Park will post a photo each day here, and on our Facebook page, of a native Hawaiian plant important to the dance, whether used as adornment by the ‘ōlapa (dancer), for offerings to Laka, the goddess of hula, or as a decoration for the sacred hula kuahu, the hula altar.

Today’s featured plant is the indigenous vine, ‘ie ‘ie, Freycinetia arborea, used to bedeck the kuahu. To quote Emerson:  “Among decorations approved and most highly esteemed stood preeminent the … star-like fronds and ruddy drupe of the ‘ie ‘ie…” (Source: Unwritten Literature of Hawai‘i, the Sacred Songs of the Hula, by Nathaniel B. Emerson, 1909).

In Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the fibrous, thick-stemmed and prickly leafed ‘ie ‘ie climbs native ‘ōhi‘a lehua trees in the remote East Rift forests and is sometimes seen in the Kīlauea summit area (Source: Hawai‘i’s Plants and Animals Biological Sketches of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, by Stone and Pratt, 2nd edition, 2002).

If these titles interest you, please visit the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association park stores. They make a wonderful addition to any library! Your purchase directly supports many park programs.


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