Hula Plant Photo(s) of the Day: ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua
Aloha Monday! Second in our Merrie Monarch Festival series of hula plant photos is the all-important native tree, ‘ōhi‘a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha), endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Its sturdy wood was used in construction of the kuahu, or hula altar; its flowers festooned the altar; the blooms (ranging from crimson, to pink and salmon or even orange) were woven into beautiful lei, particularly the delicate young leaf and flower buds, or liko and ‘ōpu‘u, seen in these photos by Judy Edwards and David Boyle.
To quote Emerson “In every hālau stood the kuahu, or altar, as the visible temporary abode of the deity, whose presence was at once the inspiration of the performance and the luck-bringer of the enterprise – a rustic frame embowered in greenery.” (Source: Unwritten Literature of Hawai‘i, the Sacred Songs of the Hula, by Nathaniel B. Emerson, 1909). In Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, ‘ōhi‘a lehua is the most conspicuous and widespread native tree, found almost everywhere, except the coastal and alpine/aeolian zones, according to Stone & Pratt’s Hawai‘i’s Plants and Animals Biological Sketches of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, 2nd edition, 2002).
There are magnificent, multi-hued ‘ōhi‘a lehua in the Kahuku unit – the topic of a special Mother’s Day program next month in the park’s southernmost region. If these titles interest you, please visit the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association park stores. They make a wonderful addition to any library!