The ‘A‘ali‘i (Dodonaea viscosa) is a native Hawaiian shrub that grows in dry environments around the world. It is a favorite on the islands for its beauty, cultural significance, and role in conservation. ‘A‘ali‘i is known for its strength, proverbially referred to as, ‘a‘ali‘i kū makani, which means “‘a‘ali‘i standing in the wind.” The shrub has the ability to withstand strong storms and wind gusts by bending and not breaking.
Found most commonly in dry, windy, open landscapes, it is easily overlooked until it blooms. Once covered in eye-catching papery seed pods, you can’t help but notice their beauty. The seed pods come in a range of colors from magenta to lime-green. They are a favorite for lei making.
Yet, its strength and beauty are eclipsed by its fast ability to hold space in unsheltered landscapes. These qualities make it an ideal forest regenerator. It quickly forms a canopy, providing shelter to other plants and animals from the wind.
‘A‘ali‘i demonstrates an important Hawaiian value; pairing humility with strength to protect and nurture those around you.