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Native Hawaiian Plant Month Day 5: Palapalai

Native Hawaiian Plant Month Day 5: Palapalai

Aloha Kākou!

Welcome to Lā ʻElima (Day Five) of ka Mahina Lāʻau Kamaʻāina! (Native Hawaiian Plant Month). In case you forgot what we are up to this month, click here for a refresher

Lā ʻElima (Day 5): Palapalai

Palapalai (Microlepia strigosa) is an indigenous fern, that can grow to be two to three feet tall. Its feathery fronds are hairy, (which is actually how it got its Latin name striga meaning short bristle-like hairs). Palapalai is a common ground cover plant, and is kapu (sacred) to the Hawaiian goddess Laka, (goddess of hula), since it’s considered to be Laka’s kino lau (her physical manifestation). Not only is this beautiful lāʻau used to adorn hula alters and dancers, but it has been used medicinally to cure hehena (insanity).

Palapalai Native Hawaiian Plant Month how to draw with Kea Peters of Kakou Collective

If youʻd like to learn how to illustrate Palapalai, click here.

If youʻd like to see all of our collective content for Native Hawaiian Plant Month, click here.

To get in the Lāʻau Kamaʻāina spirit this month, make sure you check us out at our Merrie Monarch Pop Up at the Grand Naniloa Hotel, (4/12 – 4/15 from 10am – 3pm), where we’ll be selling our newest creations featuring endemic species like palapalai, ilima, naupaka and several Hawaiian birds. At *this event only* we’ll have thrifted jean jackets with Naupaka, ilima, and mamane (to name a few) - inspired fabric that was featured in our MAMo Weareable Art show! (Super limited stock so run, don’t walk!) If you can’t make it to Hilo, no worries beef curries! You can still get your Naupaka on with our Naupaka Vinyl Stickers, available here on our website.

Stay tuned for more Lāʻau Kamaʻāina fun!

Mahalo for the resource used for this article:

1. Bishop Museum. “Online Database.” Bishop Museum - Ethnobotany Database, Bishop Museum, 
2. “Hui Ku Maoli Ola - Transforming Land Back To ‘Āina.” Hui Ku Maoli Ola Native Plant Nursery, Hui Ku Maoli Ola, 

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