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Photo and Video Chronology - Kīlauea - May 1, 2000

May 1, 2000

Lehua blossom from the ‘ōhi‘a tree - The flower of Hawai‘i

The red lehua, blossom of the ‘ōhi‘a tree, is the flower of the island of Hawai‘i, as designated in 1923 by the Territorial legislature. The plant has many forms, from tall trees to low shrubs, leaves round to narrow and blunt or pointed and smooth or woolly. The flowers are red, rarely salmon, pink, yellow, or white. The wood is hard, good for flooring and furniture, formerly used for images, spears, mallets. It grows abundantly in wet areas. It was believed that picking lehua blossoms would cause rain.

Ready-made ‘ōhi‘a lei overlooking Halema‘uma‘u

Halema‘uma‘u Crater, (3646 feet elevation) also known as the fire pit, located within the larger Kīlauea Crater gives the impression that it is being adorned with a ready-made haku lei. The ‘ōhi‘a tree is in the foreground overlooking Halema‘uma‘u Crater creating this impression. Halema‘uma‘u literally means fern house or "the house of the ‘ama‘u‘ama‘u fern".

‘Ama‘u fern with reddish-brown fronds

Halema‘uma‘u literally means "fern house" or "the house of the ‘ama‘u‘ama‘u fern". The ‘ama‘u fern are all species of an endemic genus of ferns (Sadleria), with trunk more or less evident. The fronds are narrower, smaller, and less divided than those of the haPu‘u (tree fern). At least one species has at the top of the trunk a mass of soft scales (pulu) used as pillow stuffing. Formerly, in times of famine, the tasteless pith of the trunk was cooked and eaten. The fronds were used to mulch dry-land taro, the stems for plaiting and as sizing for tapa. The ‘ama‘u was one of the forms that Kamapua‘a , the pig god, could take at will. The above photo shows the ‘ama‘u 's reddish-brown fronds, with Halema‘uma‘u Crater in the background.

‘ōhelo cluster

The ‘ōhelo is a small native shrub in the cranberry family; it has many branches with many small, rounded, toothed leaves, and bears round, red or yellow berries, which are edible raw or cooked for sauce. Formerly sacred to Pele, to whom offereings were made by throwing fruiting branches into the fiery pit at Kīlauea. Wind-dried leaves are still used for tea.