Thick shrub has variety of uses
Description: A dense shrub, 4 to 8 feet tall, with small, green leaves and tiny flowers that develop into star-shaped, papery seed capsules. These plants are mostly dioecious -- with separate male and female plants. The seed capsules that everyone loves for lei-making and plant color come from the flowers of female plants. The seed capsules vary in color, from cream, yellow, green, pink and deep, dark maroon-red.
HUI KU MAOLI OLA
'A'ali'i is available at the Hui Ku Maoli Ola nursery in Kaneohe for $5.
'A'ali'i is an indigenous plant that grows from dry, coastal lowlands, where it was once the most dominant shrub, up into the mesic forests and sometimes in wetter forests. It can be found on all the main islands except Kahoolawe (it most likely existed on that island in the past). It is dominant in the upper dry forest and sub-alpine dry forests of Maui and Hawaii.
Cultural uses: The seed capsules are highly valued for lei-weaving; the red capsules for making dye. The wood of 'A'ali'i is hard and 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 there are signs of new growth, watering can be cut back to once or twice weekly. It looks great as an accent plant around large boulders, as a specimen plant or even a hedge. It is also very wind- and drought-resistant.
We use this plant quite often in restoration work, especially on slopes and stream banks -- the 'A'ali'i have deep tap roots that act as structural pillars for slope support, plus they are really hardy plants that need practically no care.
Tasty tidbit: Hawaii has tons of varieties of this plant, all classified as the same indigenous species. Yet on every island, in every climate or elevation zone, the plants will appear different in some slight way.
co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery, with Matt Schirman. Contact him at 259-6580 or e-mail Rick.firstname.lastname@example.org