Ohi‘a Lehua

The lehua (short for ohi‘a lehua) is one of the most abundant plants of all the native Hawaiian trees. It can be found on every island of Hawai‘i except Kaho‘olawe. It is also varied by size, shape, color and leaf form. The ‘ōhi‘a lehua's scientific name is Metrosideros polymorpha gaud, and belongs to the Myrtle family. ‘Ōhi‘a lehua plants vary in stature, hairiness, shape, and leaf size. The meaning of lehua is twisted by fire.
It grows from the sea level on the windward areas to over 8,000 feet in height. The dark wood, dense and long lasting, is used for house posts, temple images, spears, poi pounding board, and the gunwale strakes of canoes. The flowers can vary from red to orange, yellow or white. This flower is said to be sacred to Pele-the volcano goddess. The flowers are brewed into medicinal tea and makes good lei with ferns and reddish leaves.

The story behind this flower is that one day Pele met a handsome young man named Ohi‘a. She loved him and wanted to marry him. When she heard that he was in love with Lehua, a young pretty girl, she became furious. Pele used her magical powers to transform Ohi‘a into a tree. When Lehua heard this, she pleaded with Pele to return the young man she loved back to human form. Pele refused to do so Lehua asked the gods to reunite her and Ohi‘a. Instead of turning Ohi‘a back to a human, the gods turned Lehua into a beautiful red flower to adorn the Ohi‘a tree. Now when anyone picks a lehua flower, it rains because the two loves are not united. This is why the Lehua is sacred to Pele.

‘Ōlelo No‘eau

Ka lehua nene‘e o kā‘ana.

The lehua of Kā‘ana was beautiful but destroyed at the introduction of animals.

Daniel 4:20-21

The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air.

 

 

 


This beautiful lehua flower is usually found on Hawai‘i. This picture is taken from the Kauila Team photo gallery.

Some people say that when you pick the lehua, it will rain. This picture is taken from the Kauila Team photo gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

"Lehua Flowers." Lehua Flowers. 13 Mar. 2006 <http://www.lehuaukulele.com/lehua_flowers.htm>.

"BibleGateway.Com: a Searchable Online Bible in Over 50 Versions and 35 Languages." BibleGateway.Com Getting the Word Out. 8 Feb. 2007 <www.biblegateway.com>.
Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983.

Life in Early Hawaii The Ahupuaa. 3rd ed. Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools P, 1994.