Hawaiian:     ‘A‘ali‘i, ‘a‘ali‘i kū makani, ‘a‘ali‘i kū ma kua, kūmakani


Latin:            Dodonaea viscosa

FAMILY:      Sapindaceae

STATUS:       Indigenous   Easy to propagate


Shrub to small tree. 2-8m tall.

Flowers: Three winged paper like, from tri-colored pink, yellow, green to dark maroon. 1-5cm long.

Leaves: Light to dark green, longer ovate. 3-10cm long, 1-3cm wide.


The ‘A‘ali‘i was sacred to the God Laka and Kapo the goddesses of hula.  The darkest red flower capsules were gathered and placed in a calabash with water.  It was brought to a boil by dropping hot rocks from an imu into the calabash.  Then the liquid, after becoming dark red, was strained and the dye was often used for kapa dye.

At times the wood from ‘A‘ali‘i which was very hard, was shaped into spears for long distance throwing.

LEGEND:  Pele saw the sadness of Laka Kapo, the gods of the forest.  Saddened by the lava flows through the forest Pele gave them the gift of dark red ‘A‘ali‘i flowers to cover up the red lava flow through the forest.