Hula Plant Photo(s) of the Day: Maile
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.
Please visit the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association park stores for an array of books and other merchandise celebrating Hawaiian culture.