‘Ōhi‘a Lehua are tied to many legends in Hawaii and had many uses throughout Hawaiian history. ‘Ōhi‘a’s wood was often used to create weapons, kapa cloth beaters, and boards for pounding poi. It’s leaves were used as medicinal tea and it’s flowers fed native Hawaiian birds suchs as the ‘apapane and now- extinct mamo. There are many stories about ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua but one of the most popular is about Pele’s revenge.
There was once a strong, tall man named named Ohia. It is said that the Pele, the goddess of volanoes, had a crush on him. Sadly for Pele, he had his eyes on another woman named Lehua who was also in love with Ohia. One day, Pele was walking in a forest and came across Ohia, she tried to flirt with him but he wouldn’t do so in return. Ohia was Lehua as he was walking and happiness struck his face. Because Pele was so angry that she could not have Ohia, she struck him as he was walking towards Lehua and turned him into a twisted ugly tree in revenge of rejecting her. Lehua looked at her love in tears, begging Pele to return him to her or to turn her into a tree as she couldn’t bear to be separated from him. Pele refused to grant Lehua her wishes, but the other Hawaiian gods were angry with what they saw. They decided to reach down to Lehua and turn her into a beautiful red flower and place it upon the twisted ohia tree so she could remain one with Ohia. Legend has it that whenever a flower is plucked from the tree, heavy rain falls upon the land like tears. Lehua still cannot bear to be separated from her beloved Ohia.