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Hula Plant Photo of the Day: ‘Ōhelo

April 25, 2014

Happy Aloha Friday! Today concludes Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s Hula Plant Photo of the Day series, and we hope you enjoyed this visual journey. We saved one of the most popular nā mea kanu o ka hula (hula plants) for last: ‘ōhelo (Vaccinium reticulatum).

‘ōhelo

‘Ōhelo berry plant growing in hardened lava. NPS Photo/Michael Szoenyi, geoland.ch

Lei makers use ‘ōhelo berries as nā wehiwehi hula, or hula adornments. The beautiful berries range in color from red to yellowish green, and make pleasing additions to lei po‘o (head lei) and lei ‘ā‘ī (neck lei). ‘Ōhelo berries are typically fashioned in the lei haku manner, braiding it with other materials.

The ‘ōhelo is an endemic shrub, and is found throughout the park, from the lowlands to above the tree line on Mauna Loa. While people enjoy their berries, they are vital to two endemic moths who rely on them as their ONLY host plant. Without ‘ōhelo, these moths would not be able to create their life cycles. Another endemic (and endangered) animal that relies on ‘ōhelo berries is the Hawaiian goose, or nēnē.

Oh, hello!

Oh, hello. It’s an ‘ōhelo closeup. NPS Photo/Michael Szoenyi, geoland.ch

There are two species of ‘ōhelo in the park: the common ‘ōhelo pictured here, and the ‘ōhelo kau la‘au, or tree ‘ōhelo, which is more limited in its distribution to wet forests.

On behalf of the park, we wish all the participants in the Merrie Monarch Festival the best experiences, and to all the park visitors here during National Park Week, e komo mai, welcome!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jan Ostrom (@janogram) permalink
    April 25, 2014 4:47 pm

    Thank you for these marvelous posts and photographs. I have friends in Volcano Village and love to visit. This keeps me close to such a beautiful place.

  2. José Truda Palazzo Jr. permalink
    April 26, 2014 4:26 am

    Thank you for this great series, it would be nice to have more feature articles on plants, animals & other living creatures of the park.

  3. Wally Camp permalink
    April 26, 2014 11:18 am

    Dear HAVO Public Affairs Specialist: Enjoyed reading & viewing the recent Hula Plants posts. Any chance you could send me the entire series in ONE e-mail attachment?? Also, one of the links “*Have you…………..nene eating ohelo berries” *WAS NOT as advertised! LOL! Instead, following the text regarding FI, the video was from NPS Am. Samoa; AND the volume was so low (I had both settings up to max) that I couldn’t even hear that dialogue. Also, I am in the process of writing 4 Travel/Guide Books ( http://www.inzanouts.com) about Hawaii and would like to talk to you (pls. call me) about how I could list your website (with info about the Hawaii Parks) ) in my books………….need some guidance so as not to create a web scavenger hunt situation for the visitors! Mahalo for your time and………… Aloha, Wally “Kimo” Camp 989-9588

    On Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 1:23 PM, Pacific Island National Parks wrote:

    > HAVO Public Affairs Specialist posted: “Happy Aloha Friday! Today > concludes Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s Hula Plant Photo of the Day > series, and we hope you enjoyed this visual journey. We saved one of the > most popular nā mea kanu o ka hula (hula plants) for last: ‘ōhelo > (Vaccinium reticul”

    • HAVO Public Affairs Specialist permalink*
      May 29, 2014 8:50 am

      Aloha Wally,

      Thank you for your email and your request. I’m just back in the office after several weeks away, and will try to get you what you need as soon as possible.

      Mahalo,
      Jessica

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