In the Garden
Rick Barboza

Friday, January 21, 2005

Pawale seed capsules
great for lei

Native Lei Plants of the Dry Forest Finale

These plants require the same growing conditions as the dry forests and will therefore thrive in full sun with minimal watering.


Pawale (Rumex skottsbergii): This shrub usually grows 2 to 4 feet tall with beautiful foliage and streaked stems. The flowers, a bright greenish yellow, are grouped in clusters that protrude above the plant. Once pollinated, they turn into papery yellow seed capsules that resemble tiny 'a'ali'i (Dodonea viscose) seed capsules. Both the flowers and the seed capsules look great woven into lei. In your yard, these plants do well in hot sunny locations and partially shaded spots. They will look dramatic when planted around large landscaping stones or in rocky landscapes.

Kakalaioa (Caesalpinia bonduc): This indigenous plant is related to the endangered hardwood tree uhiuhi (Caesalpinia kavaiensis). It usually grows as a shrub but occasionally resembles a small tree or a vinelike climbing shrub.

Kakalaioa has small yellow-orange flowers that develop into large seed pods when pollinated. Beware, the pods and stems are covered with tiny prickles.

Within the pods are beautiful roundish, grayish seeds. These seeds look terrific when strung together and can be used for lei kupe'e, worn around the wrists and ankles.

If maintained properly, these plants will look beautiful, in spite of those tiny thorns. It makes such a nice lei that you'll easily overlook those pokey little guys.


'Awikiwiki (Canavalia pubescens, C. hawaiiensis and C. napaliensis): These gorgeous vines can creep along the ground as a ground cover or crawl up a tree, trellis or fence. What makes them so attractive are their brilliant purple pea flowers. String them together facing out with their keels pointing down, or alternate the keels up and down as with a Maunaloa lei.

The Maunaloa plant (Canavalia cathartica), by the way, is not native. It is considered an invasive species, even though it is in the same genus as 'Awikiwiki.

The flattened brown seeds of 'Awikiwiki, as well as the flowers, can be strung into lei. Both 'Awikiwiki and Pawale can be found at The Home Depot as well as Wal-Mart for about $5 to $7 respectively.

Rick Barboza owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola plant nursery.
Contact him at 259-6580 or e-mail rickckbarboza@aol.com

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