Lehua Blossoms And Ohia Trees

Two lovers feel Pele's wrath and become a tree and blossom.

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• General: Chicken Skin • General: Educational
• General: History • General: Legends / Mythology

Matt Anderson's Take
Guide Series: Hawaiian Mythology
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The Hawaiian Islands are filled with an amazing amount of plants, trees, and flowers. While most visitors know that much of the flora is incredibly colorful and beautiful, few know that some of it is filled with ancient Hawaiian lore.

This is especially true in the case of the Red Lehua Blossom that grows on the Ohia Tree. Both the Lehua and the Ohia are incredible plants that can be found in many places on the islands. The Ohia can grows as both a shrub, a tall tree, and even an epiphyte (a plant growing harmlessly upon another plant or tree). Both the Ohia and Lehua can grow in wet or dry environments and in altitudes ranging from sea-level to a mile above sea-level. It's easy to see why they thrive in Hawaii.


According to ancient Hawaiian legend, there is a much bigger back story to how the Lehua blossom and Ohia tree came about.

Ohia was a human man at one point, a man that Pele had her eye on. Remember Pele - The Volcano Goddess from others legends such as Lava Rock & Sand Souvenirs and Don't Bring Pork Across Pali? She's not exactly known as being the reasonable type. More of a she-gets-what-she-wants type.

Well, Pele wanted Ohia but Ohia had is heart set on a woman named Lehua who also was in love with him. Pele wasn't big on being rejected by Ohia so she transformed Ohia into a twisted mess of a tree. There's probably a good message about absolute power corrupting absolutely in here.

Lehua was devastated and begged Pele to reverse the spell but Pele refused. Lehua didn't give up and begged other Gods for help. They agreed that the two lovers (Lehua and Ohia) should be together forever so they transformed Lehua into the red flower now known as the Lehua Blossom. In other versions of the legend, the Gods witnessed Pele's tree transformation and tried to reverse it but couldn't so they compromise for the same end result.

Ever since that happened, it's said that the Ohia tree has blossomed with beautiful Lehua blossoms. When the flowers remain on the tree, the sun will continue to shine. If the flowers are picked off of the tree, rain descends on the land like tears from the two lovers as they still cannot stand being apart from each other.
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