Ohi'a Lehua

Ohia Lehua - Metrosideros polymorpha
Aloha from sunny upcountry!

My favorite tree in Hawaii is the Ohi'a Lehua. It captivates me for many reasons besides it's beauty and strength.

The Ohi'a is extremely adaptable. It is the first woody plant to establish itself after a lava flow. It has a remarkable range of growth forms, from 1 ' tall to 100 feet tall. I was told that when it was first studied, it was believed to be a few different varieties of trees because of the varied forms it takes.

The beautiful blossom provides staple food for the rare Hawaiian Honeycreeper. The photos I am posting are the two trees at Hale Ho'okipa. The yellow blossomed tree is rare. I was gifted this tree many years ago, and am fortunate that it is growing so well. The honey bees love the blossoms, and organic lehua honey is divine! It is the best honey I have ever tasted.
Ohia Lehua - Metrosideros polymorpha - yellow flower

The tree has an important legend in Hawaiian folklore. Many hulas and chants tell of this love story.

Ohi'a was a young warrior who fell in love with the beautiful Lehua. This was a tragic love as Madame Pele also fell for the warrior, Ohi'a. Pele was angry when he shunned her, and she turned him into a tree with gray leaves and twisted branches. Lehua begged Pele to return him to his human form. She then pleaded with the gods to do the same, "no can". Instead the gods turned the young woman in the beautiful blossoms of the Ohi'a tree called Lehua blossoms so they could be together forever. The legend says that Pele will cause the rain to fall if the blossoms are picked.

The Ohi'a Lehua is the official tree of the Big Island.

So, here's to the honey bees and love stories. Happy Valentine!!