Common name: hau
Hawaiian name: hau
Scientific name: Hibiscas tiliace
Native status: indigenous


Habitat: The hau tree grows in moist areas, from the beach to up to 2,000 feet in elevation. In Hawaii, it can be found on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu.

Description: The hau plant is a tree that is brown. It looks like a hibiscus plant and it is also related to the hibiscus flower plant. It grows from seven to thirty feet tall. It has heart-shaped leaves and flowers that last for one day. The color of the flower changes from yellow to orange to red. The next day, its petals drop to the ground. The branches grow close to the ground and all intertwine and tangle with each other. It also has a fruit that is dry, brown and oval-shaped.

Uses: The Hawaiians used the inner bark of the hau plant to make a cord. The cord was used to make handles for gourds, to tie the covers of lauhala baskets, to sew kapa bed sheets together, and to tie sandals on their feet. The cord was dipped into dyes to make kapa designs. It was also used to make weapons like a slingshot and to tie points on spears.

Interesting Facts: An old Hawaiian legend tells of how the hau plant is the form of the Manoa wind. Another legends is about the sister of Hina and how she was changed into a hau tree. Sometimes, Hawaiians would use a block of soft hau wood and a pointed stick of a hard wood, rubbed together to make fire.