Vines make fragrant leis
Description: Shrubby lianas that often twine like a vine but are more shrub-looking. The leaves vary in size, shape and color, from dark to light green. The small flowers grow in clusters of three to five, from light green to creamy yellow. Once pollinated, they form green fruits that turn a glossy dark purple to black when ripe. They can segment into two or even three in-line fruits.
Maile is endemic, or found in Hawaii. It is still fairly common in dry to mesic forests on all the main islands except Kahoolawe and Niihau.
Cultural uses: The new growth on maile is used to make beautiful and highly fragrant leis. But nowadays, most "maile" leis sold here come from the Cook Islands and are not from the plant that is native to Hawaii. This is probably good because Hawaiian maile is not as abundant and grows very slowly compared with the Cook Island plants.
Landscape use and care: Plant maile as an accent around rocks or at the base of trees. It does best in partial shade but can tolerate full sun. Water daily until the plant is established, then water less. Ants might bring in scales that appear as white or brown bumps on leaves and stems. If you can get rid of the ants, other pests should be easier to deal with using store-bought pesticides.
co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery, with Matt Schirman. Contact him at 259-6580 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org