Picture of the week: 'Ōhi'a Lehua
While showing a friend around the island, I happened to pass this lone 'Ōhi'a Lehua. It was nice to be able to show her this growing in the wild because she had never seen it other than in adornments and pictures.
The 'Ōhi'a Lehua, or Metrosideros polymorpha, is endemic to the Hawaiian islands. It can be found from high up in the rain forests of most of Hawai’i’s mountains to the lower, dry areas of the lava fields of the big island of Hawai’i. Uses for these beautiful trees include medicine, wood (for building, carving implements, etc.), landscape, and most well-known, lei/adornments.
Lei and other adornment made from these beautiful flowers (and leaves) are well-known for their use in Hula. The flowers are somewhat delicate, but last quite a bit longer than most other flowers if care is taken. If not handled with care, the red spikes fall off and make quite a mess. Lehua flowers can last over a month if they are well taken care of, including in adornments. (*Note: If you plan to dry your Lehua or adornment made from Lehua, I suggest putting it somewhere where it will not be moved around a whole lot. Once dried, the spikes of the Lehua sometimes fall off. Of course, if care it taken, it may remain intact.)
The most common colors found are Red and Yellow, but there is also Orange, White, Pink, Green, and Purple.
For more information, click here to visit the University of Hawai'i's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.