Urban Forestry: Exceptional Trees of Hawai`i
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Erythrina sandwicensis | Dicotyledon
ITIS Report | IPNI Report
Indigenous, Grove
Four sisters once lived in Ka'u on the Big Island. The first, whose name was Moholani, was very beautiful. Unfortunately, the second sister was bald, the third was humpbacked, and the fourth had ragged, wind-tossed hair. Beautiful Moholani married and had a son who was given to the gods to raise. One day Moholani's husband was lured out to sea by some pretty sirens. Frantically, Moholani asked her sisters to help find her errant husband. But they refused, calling him worthless. This aroused the wrath of Moholani's son who sent lightning to transform the sisters into wiliwili trees. The bald sister became a wiliwili with few leaves, the humpbacked sister a gnarled wiliwili and the wind-tossed sister a wiliwili with leaves that flutter in the breeze. Thus chastened, Moholani's husband returned, never to stray again. That, according to Hawaiian legend, is how the wiliwili tree came to be. The habitat of this native Hawaiian tree is the dry leeward side of the islands from sea level to 2000 feet. It has gnarled, wide-spreading branches, long- stemmed leaves and spring flowers that range in color from pale red to white. In pre-European times the buoyant wood of the wiliwili was used for surfboards, canoe outriggers and fishnet floats. Its red, oblong seeds were used in leis. The wiliwili trees shown here are remnants of an ancient grove inside Koko Crater Botanic Garden on leeward Oahu.
Koko Crater Botanical Garden, East Oahu
Honolulu County (O'ahu)
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2117'32.91"N 15740'39.05"W

Erythrina sandwicensis

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Detailed Records:
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In partnership with the Outdoor Circle. Funding provided by the Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program,
Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife and USDA Forest Service