In The Garden
Loulu fan palms grow to height of 25 feet
Description: Medium-size native fan palms that can grow to 25 feet. They have large fanlike leaves, with many flowers that emerge on a short stem. Once pollinated, the flowers turn into small palm fruit about an inch in diameter. They start off green and turn black when ripe.
There are 19 species of loulu found throughout the Hawaiian Islands, including Nihoa, in various vegetative zones, from harsh coastal environments to high wet forests, as well as cliffs. This particular species is found only on Molokai in coastal habitats, valleys and cliffs. There is a remnant loulu forest on Huelo rock, a sea stack once connected to land by an arch that has since given way.
Cultural uses: Loulu seeds were eaten, trunks were used in construction and leaves were used for thatching and in a cliff-jumping/gliding game.
Landscape uses and care: Loulu are beautiful palms that can be used in any sunny location or even as houseplants. Few pests bother them, making them easy to maintain. Right now this splendid palm is available for about $8 from either the Honolulu Home Depot or at Hui Ku Maoli Ola native plant nursery.
Tasty tidbit: Other non-native species of Pritcharidia are grown here, but we should make a conscious effort to grow only the native species and to be island-specific since members of this genus do hybridize. We must keep the gene pool clean.
An ocean fish is also called loulu, although local fisherman often call it broom fish or hagi. Its tail could be taken for a loulu frond or a broom. Another issue: Many people mispronounce this plant as lo'ulu. There is no okina between the o and the u; it's pronounced simply as loulu. Lo'ulu is a type of fern.
co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery, with Matt Schirman. Contact him at 295-7777 or e-mail Rick.firstname.lastname@example.org