In The Garden
Seed capsules are beauties
Description: A dense shrub (4 to 8 feet tall) with small green leaves and tiny flowers that develop into papery, star-shaped seed capsules. These plants are mostly dioecious, meaning there are usually separate male and female plants. The seed capsules that everyone loves for lei making and plant color only come from the flowers of female plants. These seed capsules vary in color from cream to yellow, green, pink all the way to deep dark maroon-red.
HUI KU MAOLI OLA
'A'ali'i is available at home and garden stores such as Home Depot for about $6.
'A'ali'i is an indigenous plant with a range that starts in the dry coastal lowland areas where it was once the most dominant shrub, up into the mesic forests, sometimes in wetter forests on all the main islands except for Kahoolawe (where it most likely occurred in the past) and then dominant in the upper dry forest and subalpine dry forests of Maui and Hawaii.
Cultural uses: The seed capsules are highly valued for used in lei weaving, and the red capsules are used for making a red dye. The wood of 'a'ali'i is hard, and although it does not get very big, it is used for making smaller hand tools.
Landscape uses and care: This plant does best in full sun with well-drained soil and minimal watering. Once planted and there are signs of new growth, watering can be cut back to once or twice a week. Looks great as an accent plant around large boulders, as specimen plants or even as a hedge. It is also very wind and drought resistant. We use this plant often in our restoration work, especially on slopes and stream banks as it has deep tap roots that act like structural pillars for slope support. Plus they are just really hardy buggahs that need practically no care.
More information: In Hawaii there are tons of varieties of this plant, but all are classified as the same indigenous species, yet on every island, in every climate zone or elevation zone, the plants will look different in some slight way from each other.
co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery. Contact him at 259-6580 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery, with Matt Schirman. Contact him at 259-6580 or e-mail email@example.com