Common Name
Hay Scented Ferns

Hawaiian Names
Palapalai, Palai, Palai'ula

Scientific Name
Microlepia strigosa



Whole Plant



Location on Campus:

The Palapalai fern is located in the Kalama garden. It is in the bottom left corner of the garden while facing towards the road.

Natural Habitat

 Palapalai is known as a terrestrial fern growing in moist, shady places, from 230m (750 ft.)to 1800m (6000 ft.) in elevation.

Cultural Information

 The Palapalai fern is an indigenous plant. In Hawaiian, Palai means to "turns one face away in bashfulness or humility." Palapalai is important in hula. It is used to adorn hula altars. Hula dancers value its weavng into adornments. Palapalai is also one of the plants sacred to Laka, goddess of hula and of the forest.

Plant Description


  •  Fibrous roots


  •   Covered with tiny white hairs most near the root


  •  Fronds somewhat triangular

Life Cycle/

  • Ferns reproduce by an altar of generations
  • Fern is the sporophyte (produces asexual spores)


  •  Will grow in a pot, but it'll be happier in the ground
  • If pot of Palapalai seems desnsely packed with fronds and roots, use a slender sharp knife to slice through the root ball dividing it into halves and thirds
  • Replant parts to start Palai garden

Web Site Links

How To plant a Native Hawaiian Garden

In this website you will find landscape use, propagation, care and maintenance, and horticultural/landscape and many other facts about palapalai.

In this website you will find the common species, ancient ferns, uses, reproduction and more information.


Alacritude llc. "Fern." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 2002 ed.

Palapalai. Ray Tabata, web site design and production. 29 September 1998. Honolulu, Hi. 29 September 1998

Valier, Kathy. Ferns of Hawaii. Honolulu: Univesity of Hawaii Press, 1995.

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