Lauhala, lau meaning "leaf" in the Hawaiian language and refers to the leaves of the hala tree (Pandanus tectorius). Groves of the ancient hala treegreeted the first Polynesians to paddle ashore here, but legend says that Pele’s wrath helped spread it about the Islands. The tree’s stilt-like prop roots and tangle of fallen, spiny-edged leaves snagged the volcano goddess’s canoe when she landed on the island of Hawai‘i. Enraged, she ripped the tree apart, casting it across the Islands. The resilient hala took root wherever it landed along Hawai‘i’s coastlines and lower elevations.
Early Hawaiians would have welcomed the sight of hala; peoples across the Pacific used every part of the plant, including the three- to-six-foot-long lauhala, which burst like huge pompoms from its branch ends.
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