If you need anything, just give a hala. Seriously. This was one useful plant to early Hawaiians. The spiky leaves were (and still are) lovingly gathered, cleaned, dethorned, flattened and softened in preparation for weaving. The lauhala was literally woven into Hawaiian culture. Hats, mattresses, pillows, mats, ceilings, baskets, sandals, house thatching, sails, and fans were some of the items expertly crafted. The firm wood of the male tree made it suitable for use in the construction of hale. Medicines were derived from the aerial roots, leaf buds and fruits. Kapa was painted using the fibers on the ends of dried fruits. Beautiful lei were made with the hinano, the male flowers, as well as from the keys of the female fruit. Since the word "hala" also means faults, sins, errors, to pass (as time), lei made from the hala may be given at the end of a venture or to mark the passing of difficult times that have now "slipped away," making way for a new beginning.
Pu hala, Pandanus tectorius, is found around the Pacific. It is considered a canoe plant, but it is also likely that it found its own way to Hawaii, the buoyant fruits bobbing along on ocean currents and finding their way to tropical shores, where they take root. As with other plants that thrive in coastal regions, it is salt, drought, and wind tolerant. The common name, screwpine, comes from the leaves spiraling at the end of the branches. Numerous aerial roots support and anchor the tree, which is needed due to extensive spread (20 to 40 feet), but their resemblance to "legs" gives the tree the nickname "walking tree." The trees are either male or female, the male producing beautiful white bracts that wrap around small and fragrant flowers. The talc-like pollen was considered an aphrodisiac, and was used to scent kapa. Female flowers clusters develop into large globes of many wedges, called keys or phalanges, each of which hold around two seeds. Hala trees are found in cultivation and in the wild, though, like the weavers of lauhala, not as numerous as they once were.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.