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Hula Plant Photo of the Day: ‘A‘ali‘i

April 23, 2014

Please remember: take only photographs and memories, and leave only footprints when you visit your national parks!

Today’s Hula Plant Photo of the Day is the beautiful ‘a‘ali‘i (Dodonaea viscosa), an abundant indigenous shrub or small tree found from sea level to near the summit of Mauna Loa within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Its leaves are narrow and usually widest near their tips. Its small, inconspicuous flowers are clustered near the ends of its branches, but its dry fruit capsules can have a purplish pink or reddish tinge to them, sport papery wings, and are coveted by lei makers, as seen in the photo below.

Making lei with ‘a‘ali‘i

Lei ‘a‘ali‘i. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

The fruit capsules and leaves of ‘a‘ali‘i are often used in lei fashioned in the lei wili style, sometimes alone or with other lei material and can be worn around the head (lei po‘o) or around the neck (lei ‘ā‘ī). The capsules are also used to make red dye.

If you want to learn more about the amazing uses and stories behind Hawaiian hula plants, check with the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park for the next Nā Mea Kanu O Ka Hula seminar with kumu hula Ab Kawainohoikala‘i Valencia of Hālau Hula Kalehuaki‘eki‘eika‘iu.

To celebrate National Park Week and the 51st anniversary of the Merrie Monarch Festival, we not only bring you this special blog series on the Hula Plants, but today the park will begin three days of wonderful cultural programs at Kīlauea Visitor Center. E komo mai and mahalo nui loa to all the wonderful and generous cultural practitioners who share their knowledge, mana‘o, with all of us this week!



‘A‘ali‘i thrive along the summit of Kīlauea. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane


2 Comments leave one →
  1. coral taoipu permalink
    April 23, 2014 3:49 pm

    Aloha, im looking to purchase a lei made of ‘a’ali’i flowers, can you help me please
    Mahalo nui

    • April 24, 2014 8:50 am

      Aloha! Lei ‘a’ali’i is special order. Merrie Monarch week will have lei sellers at the craft fair. We have seen lei ‘a’ali’i there. Cost varies- $35 and up.

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