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Hula Plant Photo(s) of the Day: ‘Ōlapa

April 5, 2013
 ‘Ōlapa

Close-up of Ōlapa leaves. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

‘Ōlapa (Cheirodendron trigynum) is the hula plant of the day, honoring the sixth day of the 50th annual Merrie Monarch Festival. ‘Ōlapa, which means dancer in Hawaiian, was named for the way its graceful leaves flutter in the slightest breeze.

This small to medium-sized tree is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, and its lovely oval-shaped, yellow-green leaves seem to sparkle in the sunlight. Hawaiians use its dark purplish fruits, leaves and bark to make a bluish-black dye, and weave the leaves into lei, according to Beatrice Krauss, author of “Plants in Hawaiian Culture.”

‘Ōlapa bearing fruit. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

‘Ōlapa bearing flowers & fruit. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

‘Ōlapa are abundant in park rain forests, and are especially noticeable along Highway 11 when approaching the park entrance from Puna. They are also observed growing along the path leading to Thurston Lava Tube, and in other rain forest sections of the park.

Visit the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association park stores for a marvelous selection of books and other merchandise celebrating all things Hawaiian.

‘Ōlapa dancing in the breeze. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson.


‘Ōlapa dancing in the breeze. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson.

‘Ōlapa greenery. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson.


‘Ōlapa greenery. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson.

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