Name of Plant: Ohi’a Tree
Type of Plant: Beautiful/Useful!
1) Plant History & General Information:
a) Scientific & Other Names: Metrosideros polymorpha; ’Ōhi’a Lehua
b) Region of Origin: Hawaii, USA
c) General History: In Hawaiian mythology, Ohia and Lehua were two lovers separated by the goddess Pele. Pele desired Ohia and when she could not have him she turned him into a tree. Lehua was devastated by this transformation and out of pity the gods turned her into a flower and placed her upon the ohia tree. Separating these united lovers is not encouraged, and it is said that when a lehua flower is plucked from an ohia tree, the sky fills with rain representing the lovers’ tears.
The Red Lehua flower is the official flower of the Big Island.
2) Plant Uses:
a) As Food: Lehua honey can also be made, but it is generally expensive due to the rarity of lehua.
b) As Medicine: The young leaf buds had traditional medicinal uses.
c) Other Uses: In native Hawaiian society, the hard, dark reddish wood of the Ohia was used in house and canoe construction, and for poi boards, weapons, tool handles, kapa beaters, ki?i (statues and idols), and as high quality firewood. The leaves served religious purposes in the construction of heiau. The flowers (lehua) and leaf buds (liko lehua) were used in making lei.
3) Growing Instructions
a) Growing: Many ‘Ōhi’a drop aerial roots from their branches. These roots do not reach the ground but stay suspended, collecting moisture from the air. The trees tend to prefer wetter areas but grow just about anywhere, including dry regions, from sea level up to 7,000 ft. In fact, ‘Ōhi’a Lehua is so versatile and hardy that it will populate a new lava field within 100 years.
b) Best time to Harvest: /
(Picking of the Lehua flowers can cause it to rain.)
c) Sunlight Requirements: Full Shade, Partial Shade, Full Sunlight: Full/Partial Sunlight.
d) Soil Requirements: /
e) Propagation: Cutting, Division, Grafting, Seed, Separating
f) Controlling Spread: /
g) Difficulties with this plant: /
h) History of this Plant at Hedonisia: /