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Hula Plant Photo(s) of the Day: Maile

April 2, 2013
maile lau li'i

Closeup of maile lau li’i. NPS photo/Jessica Ferracane

It’s Day Three of the 50th annual Merrie Monarch Festival! Our hula plant photo of the day is Maile (Alyxia oliviformis). This fragrant, endemic, woody vine is one of the most prized lei-making plants in the islands. It is perhaps the most important flora for adorning the kuahu, or hula altar, and is used alone and with other plants in dramatic lei po‘o (head lei) or lei ‘ā‘ī, the garland draped around the neck and shoulders.

In Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, maile may be observed in Kīpukapuaulu, Kahuku, and other locations, including the rainforest between Makaopuhi and Nāpau craters. It is prohibited to collect maile in the park, since picking and over-harvesting can be destructive not only to the vine, but to surrounding plants. (Source: Stone & Pratt’s  Hawai‘i’s Plants and Animals Biological Sketches of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, 2nd edition, 2002).

These photos, taken yesterday, show maile lau li‘i. It is found in the drier forests, and has a shorter, thicker leaf than the rainforest variety, maile lau nui,  which sports a longer leaf with a pointed tip.


maile in bloom

The tiny yellow tubular flowers of maile are often overlooked but are quite fetching. Photo courtesy of Sierra McDaniel.

maile fruit

The fleshy fruit of the maile will ripen into a shiny black. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

maile thicket

A wonderfully healthy, intact patch of maile within the park. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

 Please visit the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association park stores for an array of books and other merchandise celebrating Hawaiian culture.

maile in fruit

Maile with fruit. Photo courtesy/Sierra McDaniel.


Glossy leaves of maile lau li’i. Photo courtesy of Sierra McDaniel

One Comment leave one →


  1. Maile Lau Lii » Hawaiian Quilting With Poakalani & Co.

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