Hawaiian Name(s): hala, pū hala, lauhala

Scientific Name: Pandanus tectorius

Vernacular Name: screw pine

Family: Pandanaceae

Status: indigenous

Authority: Parkinson ex Z

Description: Small trees up to 10 m tall supported at base by several thick, rigid roots exposed above soil. Four types of hala based on color of fruit: common hala is yellow, hala ‘ula is orange, hala lihilihi ‘ula is red fading to yellow and hala pia is small & pale yellow.

Habitat Commonly occurs in mesic coastal sites and into on low elevation slopes of mesic valleys further inland 0–610 m (Wagner et al. 1990:1479–1481).

Medicines: The hala fruit is made part of a treatment for ‘ea and pa‘ao‘ao. The aerial roots are used in medications for childbirth and a skin disorder. They are combination with pohepohe (Hydrocotyle verticillata), kohekohe (Eleocharis spp.), hala leaf buds, ‘ala‘ala wai nui pehu (Peperomia spp.), ‘ihi makole (Oxalis corniculata), naio leaf buds, fruit, and leaves (Myoporum sandwicense), niu (coconut, Cocos nucifera), kukui flowers (Aleurites moluccana), noni fruits (Morinda citrifolia), and kō (Saccharum officinarum). For childbirth, a treatment includes ‘uhaloa root (Waltheria indica), noni fruits, hala leaf buds and aerial roots, ‘ahu‘awa leaf buds (Cyperus javanicus), kō kea, and ‘alaea clay. For chest pains and kohepopo a drink of hala aerial roots, pa‘ihi (Nasturtium sarmentosum), ‘uhaloa, pōpolo root bark (Solanum americanum), ‘ala‘ala wai nui pehu stems (Peperomia), ‘ohi‘a lehua bark (Metrosideros spp.), noni fruit, and kō kea) (Chun 1994:73–77).

Non Medicinal Uses: Leaves are prepared and woven into mats and pillows, and thatch (Abbott 1992:71–75). Seeds and fruit are edible (Abbott 1992:72), and roots may be used as cordage fiber (Summers 1990:99–100). For some ‘uli‘uli (hula rattles) the handles were made of lauhala. Phalanges (fruit parts or "keys") used in lei & when dried, as brushes for painting kapa (Abbott 1992:54–55). In the Bishop Museum ethnology collection there are many beautiful hats made from the leaf of the hala tree and a post-contact example of the stem made into a bowl.

Specific gravity of wood: unknown

Famous Locations: Naue, Kaua‘i; Kekele, below Nu‘uanu Pali, O‘ahu;

Mele: "Ka hala o Naue i ke kai" line in "He Inoa no Ka‘iulani" ""Puna paia ‘a‘ala i ka hala" line in "Hilo Hanakahi" "Ho‘oheno i na hala o Ko‘oko‘olau" line in "Hole Waimea" "Nani wale na hala, ‘ea ‘ea/ O Naue i ke kai, ‘ea ‘ea" line in "Na Hala o Naue" "Lei aku la i ka hala o Kekele/ Na hala moe ipo o Malailua" lines in "Makalapua" (Elbert & Mahoe 1970). "Ike ia Kaunawahine he Makani Ka‘u"- mele pai ali‘i or chant in admiration for chiefs and "‘Oni‘ana la ‘Oni‘ana"; "Hanohano Kapulani i ka Ulu Hala" (Pukui 1995).

`Ōlelo Noeau: [I] ‘A‘ohe ‘alawa wale iho ia Mali‘o. Not even a glance at Mali‘o. Said of a haughty person. Pele was once so annoyed with Mali‘o and her brother Halaaniani that she turned them both into stone and let them lie in the sea in Puna, Hawai‘i. It was at a bay named after Halaaniani that clusters of pandanus were tossed into the sea as tokens to loved ones. These were borne by the current to Kamilo in Ka‘u. [II] ‘A‘ohe hala ‘ula i ka po. No hala fruit shows its color in the darkness of night. Beauty must be seen to be enjoyed. [III] He iki hala au no Kea‘au, ‘a‘ohe pohaku ‘ala e naha ai. I am a small hala fruit of Kea‘au, but there is no rock hard enough to smash me. The boast of a Puna man–I am small, perhaps, but mighty. [IV] He lauhala lana. Floating pandanus leaves. Said of people who drift from place to place; worthless vagabonds. [V] He pu hala a‘a kiolea. A hala tree with thin, hanging roots. Said of one who is not strong, like a tree with aerial roots that are not yet imbedded in the earth. [VI] He pu hala uo‘o. A tough [old] pandanus tree. Said of a stingy person. A play on pu hala in Puhala-hua, the name of a man in the 1800s who was known for his thrift and diligence in saving for old age. [VII] Hilo, nahele paoa i ke ‘ala. Hilo, where the forest is imbued with fragrance. Hilo's forest is fragrant with hala and lehua blossoms. [VIII] Hopu hewe a ka ‘ahui hala o Kekele. [One] grasps the pandanus cluster of Kekele by mistake. Said of one who meets with disappointment. Play on hala (to miss or be gone). The hala cluster is often used figuratively to refer to the scrotum. Kekele is a grove at the base of the Nu‘uanu Pali. [IX] Ka hala lau kalakala o Waiku. The thorny-leaved hala tree of Waiku. A boast about someone who is not to be tampered with. Ka hala mapu ‘a‘ala o Uoeloa. The sweet-scented hala of Upeloa. Upeloa, in Hilo, was noted for its sweet-smelling hala. [X] Ka makani hali ‘ala o Puna. The fragrance-bearing wind of Puna. Puna, Hawai‘i, was famed for the fragrance of maile, lehua, and hala. It was said that when the wind blew from the land, fishermen could smell the fragrance of these leaves and flowers. [XI] Ka ua kahiko hala o Kea‘au. The rain that adorns the pandanus trees of Kea‘au. Refers to the pandanus grove of Kea‘au, Puna, Hawai‘i. [XII] Ka ua kiki hala o Punalu‘u. The hala-pelting rain of Punalu‘u. Refers to the rain at Punalu‘u, O‘ahu. [XIII] Ka ua pe‘e pu hala o Huelo. The rain of Huelo that makes one hide in a hala grove. [XIV] Ka ua pehi hala o Hamakua. The rain of Hamakua that pelts the pandanus fruit clusters. Refers to Hamakua, Maui. [XV] Ka wahine alualu pu hala o Kamilo. The hala-pursuing woman of Kamilo. A current comes to Kamilo in Ka‘u from Halaaniani in Puna; whatever is tossed in the sea at Halaaniani floats into Kamilo. Papua once left her husband in Puna and went to Ka‘u. He missed her so badly that he decided to send her a pretty loincloth she had made him. This might make her think of him and come back. He wrapped the malo around a stem of a hala cluster, tied it securely in place with a cord, and tossed it into the sea. A few days later some women went fishing at Kamilo and noticed a hala cluster bobbing in the water. Eagerly they tried to sieze it until one of the women succeeded. Kapua watched as the string was untied and the malo unfolded. She knew that it was her husband's plea to come home, so she returned to Puna. [XVI] Lei Hanakahi i ke ‘ala me ke onaona o Pana‘ewa. Hanakahi is adorned with the fragrance and perfume of Pana‘ewa. The forest of Pana‘ewa was famous for its maile vines and hala and lehua blossoms, well liked for making lei, so Hilo (Hanakahi) was said to be wreathed in fragrance. [XVII] Ma‘ema‘e i ke kai ka pua o ka hala, ua ma‘ewa wale i ka poli o Kahiwa. Cleaned by the sea are the blossoms of the hala whose leaves sway at the bosom of Kahiwa. These two lines from a chant of praise for a chief are used as an expression of admiration. [XVIII] Ma‘ema‘e Puna i ka hala me ka lehua. Lovely is Puna with the hala and the lehua. Refers to Puna, Hawai‘i. [XIX] Moena haunu ‘ole o ka nahele. Mat of the forest to which no strips are added in making. Said of a bed made of fern, banana, or other leaves of the forest–one needs no strips of lauhala or other material to make a mat. [XX] Na hala o Kekele. The hala grove of Kekele. This grove, famous for the variety and fragrance of its hala, was found at the foot of Nu‘uanu Pali. Some people declare that although the hala trees have been cut down for many years, that they can still smell the fragrance in the breeze as they pass at night. [XXI] Na hala o Naue ‘au i ke kai. The hala of Naue swin out to sea. The hala trees of Naue, Kaua‘i, seem to reach out to sea. This expression is used in songs and chants. [XXII] Nani Puna po i ke ‘ala. Beautiful Puna, heavy with fragrance. Praise for Puna, Hawai‘i, where the wreath of maile, lehua, and hala blossoms are ever present. [XXIII] Na niu ulu ao‘a o Mokuola. The tall, slim coconuts of Mokuola. Mokuola (now called Coconut Island) in Hilo, is a place where pandanus and coconut trees were numerous. [XXIV] Pala ka hala, momona ka ha‘uke‘uke. When the pandanus fruit ripens, the ha‘uke‘uke sea urchin is fat. [XXV] Pala ka hala, momona ka uhu. When the pandanus fruit is ripe, the parrot fish is fat. The sea urchin, a favorite food of the parrotfish, is fat during the season when the pandanus fruit is ripe. Feeding on the sea urchin, the fish, too, becomes fat. [XXVI] Pala ka hala, ‘ula ka ‘a‘i. When the hala ripens, the neck is brightened by them. People are very fond of hala lei. From a name chant of Kuali‘i. [XXVII] Pe‘epe‘e pu hala. Hiders among the hala trees. An epithet for the kauwa of Hamakualoa, Maui. [XXVIII] Puhalu ka ihu, nana i ke ka‘ao. When the scent reaches the nose, one sees the overripe hala fruit [fallen to the ground]. One only notices many good things a person does when it is too late to show appreciation. [XXIX] Puna, kai nehe i ka ulu hala. Puna, where the sea murmurs to the hala grove. [XXX] Pu‘u i ka hala o Kekaha. Choked on the hala fruit of Kekaha. Pregnant.

Dye Color and Parts:

Kino lau:

Location on Bishop Museum Kalihi Campus: Yes

Propagation Information: Seed half buried in potting mix, water daily; grown from large cuttings stuck directly in the ground/large pots and watered daily; tough & drought tolerant, able to take in salt water with its stilt roots; thrives in wet areas (Bornhorst 1996:52–53; Nagata 1992). See also Burgess and Enos (1996).
Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database.
Native Plants Hawaii.

Seed: Fruit length approximately 50 mm. Photograph: H.Lennstrom.
Click for image