‘Uki ‘uki


Hawaiian:                 ‘Uki ‘uki, ‘uki

English:                    Hawaiian lily

Latin:                        Dianella sandwicensis

FAMILY:              Liliaceae

STATUS:                Indigenous

Grows at ground level in clumps 1/3-1/2 meters tall. It grows from 120 to 2140 meters in elevation.

Flowers: White/blue in color which turns into blue seeds.

Leaves: 30-100cm long and 2-3cm wide.

A perennial herb that grows on all of the islands except Ni‘ihau and Kaho‘olawe. This plant is one of the few species of a native indigenous Hawaiian lily mostly seen around Kīlauea Volcano.


‘Uku ‘uki was used commonly in thatching pili grass to the rafters of houses.  It is referred to as lashing cordage which was a three ply braid and less often from sennit.

The Hawaiians used the berries for a purple blue dye for kapa, when they added lime they got a true blue in color.  It is said that when you find kapa at a burial site with blue dye on it, the site most likely is that of ali‘i class.  Commoners did not use this color in their everyday kapa.  Ancient Hawaiians would also use the seeds in beautiful seed lei.

There is a reference to a chant where Pele and her little sister were up in Volcano area, the sky was grey in color, Hi‘iaka was very little at the time, she is said to ask her sister for the color in the sky.  Pele asked laka for his help to humor her little sister.  He went down to the Marquesas Islands and brought back uki uki with its blue berries for Hi‘iaka.