‘Ohi’a Lehua Tree
Metrosideros polymorpha – ‘Ohi’a Lehua
Other Common Names: Ohia
Metrosideros polymorpha is a flowering tree that belongs to the Myrtaceae family. It is evergreen, which means it has leaves all throughout the year and. It is prevalent in Hawaii’s six largest islands and is referred by native traditions as a sacred tree to the volcano goddess, Pele and the goddess of hula, Laka. It is also commonly known as Ohia or ‘Ohi’a Lehua.
This slow growing tree is also the most abundant tree in Hawaii. In favorable situations, it can grow as tall as 20 to 25 meters or 66 to 82 feet. Sometimes, it can even reach up to 30 meters or 100 feet. But, when grown on basalt or in boggy soils, it usually grows smaller, much more like a shrub rather than a tree.
The ‘Ohi’a Lehua is a great sanctuary for native birds, including the endangered ones. The form of the trunk varies as some trees have straight and smooth trunks, while others have twisted and corrugated trunks. Young barks are smooth and light gray in color, but as they age, they become scaly and rough.
The leaves of the ‘Ohi’a Lehua are dark green in color and have a leathery texture. They are generally oval shaped and can be 0.5 to 3 inches long and 0.5 to 2.25 inches wide. Flowers bloom mostly during springtime, but can also occasionally bloom throughout the year. They appear in clusters and can range from cream, light orange, orange, pink, or yellow, but the most common color is bright to medium red.