Hawaiian Plant Folklore: Mythical and Medicinal Uses

Discover the captivating world of Hawaiian plant folklore, from the love story of the Ohia Lehua tree to the healing powers of Noni and Taro. Immerse in rich traditions.

Hawaiian Plant Folklore: Mythical and Medicinal Uses
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Plants have been crucial to Hawaiian culture, serving as symbols in mythology and as essential ingredients in traditional medicine. This article explores these plants and their significance in Hawaiian folklore and healing practices. By understanding the cultural importance of these plants, visitors can gain a deeper appreciation for the rich history and traditions of Hawaii.

The Legend of the Ohia Lehua Tree

The Ohia Lehua tree, known for its beautiful red flowers, is deeply rooted in Hawaiian mythology. The captivating love story of the demigod Ohi’a and the beautiful Lehua tells of their transformation into the Ohia tree and its blossoms. This legend highlights the tree’s cultural significance and its vital role in Hawaiian ecosystems, as it provides habitat and food for various native species.

Noni: The Polynesian Superfruit

The Noni fruit has been used for centuries in Hawaiian traditional medicine, offering a range of health benefits. Today, Noni is often referred to as a superfruit due to its high nutritional value and antioxidant properties. From boosting the immune system to promoting digestive health, Noni has become increasingly popular in modern wellness circles.

Ti Leaf: A Plant of Protection and Good Luck

The Ti Leaf holds a special place in Hawaiian culture, symbolizing protection, purification, and good luck. It has been used in various ceremonies and rituals, as well as for practical applications such as creating clothing, baskets, and even shelter. The Ti Leaf continues to be a significant part of Hawaiian traditions today.

Kava: The Drink of the Gods

Kava, a popular Polynesian drink, has a long history of ceremonial use in Hawaiian culture. Known for its calming and euphoric effects, Kava is often associated with relaxation and social bonding. Its mythical origins, rooted in stories of the gods, further emphasize its importance in Hawaiian traditions.

Taro: The Life-Giving Plant

The Taro plant holds a central role in Hawaiian mythology as the “elder brother” of the Hawaiian people. As a staple food in Hawaiian cuisine, Taro has been cultivated using traditional methods for generations. Its cultural significance is evident in its prominence in both Hawaiian folklore and everyday life.

Other Notable Plants in Hawaiian Folklore and Medicine

Several other plants hold mythical or medicinal significance in Hawaiian culture, such as Mamaki, Uhaloa, and Awapuhi. These plants have been used for various purposes, from treating ailments to providing spiritual guidance, showcasing the deep connection between Hawaiian culture and the natural world.

Experiencing Hawaiian Plant Folklore in Person

Travelers eager to learn more about and experience these plants firsthand can visit botanical gardens, cultural centers, or attend traditional Hawaiian healing workshops. Local events and festivals also provide opportunities to immerse oneself in the rich world of Hawaiian plant folklore, deepening one’s understanding and connection to the Hawaiian Islands.


The rich cultural heritage of Hawaii is intricately connected to its plant life, from the mythical tales of the Ohia Lehua tree to the life-giving properties of Taro. By exploring the fascinating world of Hawaiian plant folklore, travelers can gain a deeper appreciation for the history and traditions that make Hawaii truly unique.


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