Hawaiian: Ōhi’a, ōhi’a lehua, lehua
Latin: Metrosideros Polymorpha
A small shrub to tall trees 30 meters tall. Grows from sea level to 2200 meters in elevation.
Flower: colors range throughout the yellow and red spectrum. There is also a pale pink or “white” lehua. A few lehua flowers are “tri” or “bi” colored and several yellows are unusual in that they contain green tones or oranges to varying degrees.
Leaves: Generally ovate dark green, olive green and silver/blue green.
Dieteri – small tree, rough bark
Glaberrima – shrub to tall tree, rough bark
Incana – tall tree, rough bark
Macrophylla – small to tall tree, bark separating in thin strips
Newellii – shrub to small tree, bark unknown, usually along watercourses
Polymorpha – shrub to small tree, rough bark
Pseudo Rugosa – shrub that grows in bogs
Pumila – shrub grown in swamps
All of these have all the varieties of color, the following are also included in the family:
Metrosideros Rugosa (endemic)
Metrosideros Tremuloides (endemic)
Metrosideros Waialealae (endemic)
Metrosideros Macropus (endemic)
During a battle between two armies the first men to be killed were called “lehua” the reference perhaps to the blood spilt on the ground just like the Ōhi‘a lehua flowers after they fall on the grounds. The Hawaiians really did value the Ōhi‘a Lehua trees.
The Ōhi‘a tree is rumored to be the goddess Hi‘iaka’s favorite. It is the first to grow on lava and supports the growth of numerous other Hawaiian trees. There are some trees that will not grow well without an Ōhi‘a close to them.
Ōhi‘a trees were used as timber in heiau houses.
Kahuna Lapa‘au used Ōhi‘a and lehua in some medicinal formulas.