Hawaiian Name(s): ‘ōkaha, akaha, ‘ōkaha kuahiwi

Scientific Name: Asplenium nidus

Vernacular Name: bird's nest fern

Family: Aspleniaceae

Status: indigenous

Authority: L.

Description: Fern, to 2-4 feet.

Habitat Often found growing in trees, but also on the ground; to elevation of 760 m (Valier 1991:62).

Medicines: This plant is used in a treatment for ‘ea and pa‘ao‘ao. A liquid is made of strained ‘ōkaha leaf shoots, ‘ohi‘a lehua leaf buds (Metrosideros spp.), ‘ohi‘a ‘ai bark (Syzygium malaccense), ‘āla‘ala wai nui pehu (Peperomia spp.), ‘aka‘akai ‘oliana (onion, Allium cepa), and kō kea (white sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum). Another variation combines ‘ōkaha leaf shoots, kukui nuts and flowers (Aleurites moluccana). For body sores (puho kolokolo koko‘ole), an ointment is made from ‘ōkaha leaves, salt, ‘auko‘i (Senna occidentalis), and kō (Chun 1994:67–68).

Non Medicinal Uses: Used on hula altars (kuahu) (Emerson 1909:19). Midrib used to decorate lauhala items (Bornhorst 1996:77; Valier 1995:62), canoe-building ceremony in which the tree stump was covered with ‘ōkaha before it was shaped (Bornhorst 1996:77).

Specific gravity of wood: n/a

Famous Locations:


`Ōlelo Noeau:

Dye Color and Parts:

Kino lau:

Location on Bishop Museum Kalihi Campus: between Konia and Paki

Propagation Information: Buy plant from nursery, water regularly & transplant into successively larger pots; can be put in tree spreading roots in fan shape & tied to branch; water well till established & then twice a week after that (Bornhorst 1996:76–77). It grows somewhat slowly (Hoshizaki & Moran 2002:199).
Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database.
Native Plants Hawaii.