‘A‘ali‘i (Dodonaea viscosa)
Hawaiian Name: ‘A‘ali‘i
Scientific Name: Dodonaea viscosa
Family: Sapindaceae (Lychee Family)
Where found: Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Hawai‘i, O‘ahu & Kaua‘i
Water/Light: Dry, with full to part sun exposure
Elevation range: 10 to 7,700 feet
Height: Up to 30 feet, with a spread of up to 15 feet
Notes: In old Hawai‘i, the durable wood of ‘a‘ali‘i was used to make house posts, canoes and spears. The fruits can be boiled to make a red kapa dye, and the flowers continue to be used to make beautiful lei. Medicinally, ‘a‘ali‘i leaves were mixed with other plants in a remedy to treat skin rashes (‘ohune or mane‘o). Prune sparingly, as ‘a‘ali‘i does not heal well when major branches are cut. This native is drought, salt and wind resistant, and highly adaptable.
‘Ōlelo Noeau [M. K. PUKUI]: He ‘a‘ali‘i ku makani mai au; ‘a‘ohe makani nana e kula‘i.
Translation: I am a wind-resting ‘a‘ali‘i; no gale can push me over.
Meaning: A boast saying, "I can hold my own, even in the face of difficulties." The ‘a‘ali‘i can stand the worst of gales, twisting and bending but seldom breaking off or falling over.
*Photo courtesy of Forest & Kim Starr