‘Ōlena is a member from the ginger family. Its common name is Turmeric. The scientific name of this plant is curcuma longa. The turmeric was Polynesian introduced. Its colors are yellow-and-white, and it dies down in the autumn. If you were to mix its pounded roots with seawater in an ‘umeke lāa‘u (wooden bowl), and sprinkle it where it is needed it can remove kapu (taboo) restrictions. If you were to drop the juice from the crushed root into your ear, it can relieve earache. And it you were to drop some into the nostrils, it can relieve sinuses for sinusitis.

The part of the plant that is used the most was the rhizomes. Rhizomes are the roots of the plant. The color of the flesh of the rhizomes range from a canary-yellow, when young, to a deep orange or mustard when older. Not only was it used for medicine and kapu, but for perfume too. It is also used to enhance the immune system by purifying the blood. At times 'Olena has been taken as a diuretic, and topically it can be helpful with pimples or to stop bleeding

The native fern, lauae was added to the ‘ōlena dye. This was reserved for malo (or loincloth) worn by the chiefs.

This is a song about the flower part of the Olena plant. (pua olena)

It was composed by and unknown artist, but performed by Beamer Brothers (Seabreeze)


Pua Olena (the flower of the 'Olena)

Pua Moi Wale I Kana Hele Moi Ne
E Kua Noi
Maka Li'i
E Ala Mai,Hu I Ke Mai
I Ko Nani

Pua Olena
Pua Olena
Pua Olena

Dreams Fill Beauty
Of My Garden
Deep In Slumber
Kissed By Misty
Summer Rains
Come With Me
Come Lets See
Of Your Beauty

Pua Olena
Pua Olena

This is picture of Red torch Ginger
Taken on the island of Kauai by: Layleigh C.



This is a picture of White Ginger taken on the island of Kaua'i
by: Layleigh C.



Kepler, Angela Kay. Hawaiian Heritage Plants. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998.

Krauss, Beatrice H. Plants In Hawaiian Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993.

Life In Early Hawai‘i: The Ahupua'a. Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools Press, 1994.

Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawaii: Olena." 28 Nov. 2006 <http://www.canoeplants.com/olena.html>.