Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bamboo and Wai (fresh water)

Bamboo forest trail on Maui Hawaii

Aloha from upcountry!

Although we have been experiencing a nippy winter with a fair amount of rain, I was told recently that we are still in a drought. When the big rains come, it is often from the south, Kona storms. Those rains tend to run off into the ocean...now, that is a cryin' shame!

The Hawaiian word for fresh water is "wai". Wai Wai means wealth. Maui Hawaii fresh water pondIn the beautiful and amazing district of Hana, on the eastern side of Maui, there is controversy about the fresh water that travels all the way to the central valley to water the sugar cane.

This system of canals was built in the 1870's, and still is in use today. The kalo, taro, farmers of Hana district need water to grow their taro crops. Taro is a very important plant in the Hawaiian culture. There are many remnants of the kalo terraces from ancient times.

I am posting some shots of a recent hike that I took with my grandchildren. We walked through this amazing bamboo forests to get to the waterfalls. Bamboo is an introduced species that is dominating in many areas of the islands. waterfall in Maui HawaiiIt grows incredibly fast, inches a day. It was intoduced to Hawaii during plantation times as a food source.
The clacking of the bamboo as it sways in the wind is soothing. One has to be very mindful of where you plant it, and the variety you plant. The yellow elephant bamboo variety gets huge, and is very difficult to get rid of once it is going strong.
I just learned about the native Hawaiian bamboo. It does not grow that tall. I have yet to see it, but I'll be keeping my eyes open for it.

We are so blessed .

With Aloha,


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ohi'a Lehua

Ohia Lehua - Metrosideros polymorpha
Aloha from sunny upcountry!

My favorite tree in Hawaii is the Ohi'a Lehua. It captivates me for many reasons besides it's beauty and strength.

The Ohi'a is extremely adaptable. It is the first woody plant to establish itself after a lava flow. It has a remarkable range of growth forms, from 1 ' tall to 100 feet tall. I was told that when it was first studied, it was believed to be a few different varieties of trees because of the varied forms it takes.

The beautiful blossom provides staple food for the rare Hawaiian Honeycreeper. The photos I am posting are the two trees at Hale Ho'okipa. The yellow blossomed tree is rare. I was gifted this tree many years ago, and am fortunate that it is growing so well. The honey bees love the blossoms, and organic lehua honey is divine! It is the best honey I have ever tasted.
Ohia Lehua - Metrosideros polymorpha - yellow flower

The tree has an important legend in Hawaiian folklore. Many hulas and chants tell of this love story.

Ohi'a was a young warrior who fell in love with the beautiful Lehua. This was a tragic love as Madame Pele also fell for the warrior, Ohi'a. Pele was angry when he shunned her, and she turned him into a tree with gray leaves and twisted branches. Lehua begged Pele to return him to his human form. She then pleaded with the gods to do the same, "no can". Instead the gods turned the young woman in the beautiful blossoms of the Ohi'a tree called Lehua blossoms so they could be together forever. The legend says that Pele will cause the rain to fall if the blossoms are picked.

The Ohi'a Lehua is the official tree of the Big Island.

So, here's to the honey bees and love stories. Happy Valentine!!