‘Ōhia lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha)

Hawaiian name: ‘Ōhi‘a lehua
Botanical name: Metrosideros polymorpha
Family: Myrataceae (Myrtle family)
Status: Endemic
Where found: Mid to high elevations on all main islands except Ni‘ihau and Kaho‘olawe
Water/Light: Mesic to wet, full sun to part shade
Elevation range: 0 to 7,200 feet
Height: Variable

From Work Done by Whit Germano to Catalog Native Hawaiian Plants

Notes: Probably no other native Hawaiian plant is found in a greater number of varieties than ‘ōhi‘a lehua. The beautiful flowers, of many colors, are an important food source for Hawai‘i’s native birds. Early Hawaiians fashioned this exceptional wood into numerous items including kapa beaters, poi boards and kāhili poles. Medicinally, early Hawaiians mixed ‘ōhi‘a lehua flowers with other plants to ease the pains of childbirth and to stimulate the appetite and digestion of a weakened child. ‘Ōhi‘a lehua flowers and the liko (new leaves) are as prized for lei making today, as much as they were in ancient times . ‘Ōhi‘a lehua is drought and wind tolerant.

A newly identified disease has killed large numbers of mature ʻōhiʻa trees in forests and residential areas of the Puna and Hilo Districts of Hawaiʻi Island. Learn more at https://cms.ctahr.hawaii.edu/rod/

Photo: MNBG

‘Ōlelo Noeau [PUKUI]: I mohala no ka lehua i ke ke‘eke‘ehi ‘ia e ka ua.

Translation: Lehua blossoms unfold because the rains tread upon them.
Meaning: Gentle words bring forth much that is desired.

Please Consider
Making a Donation

Every dollar contributed to Maui Nui Botanical Gardens goes directly towards the preservation of Native Hawaiian Plants and the upkeep of our collection that includes some of the rarest specimens in whole world!

A Few Native Hawaiian Plants from the MNBG Collection