Maile is a fragrant native vine. They are one of the few plants grown commercially for lei, and they are prized at weddings, graduations, and retirements. On Kauaʻi, maile lei may be garnished with Mokihana, another native forest plant that adds additional honor to the recipient. Unfortunately, native forests are often unsustainably stripped of the plant during graduation season due to high demand. There has been some effort in establishing lower elevation nurseries to serve the social need for maile lei.
Early Hawaiians also used the plant to catch birds, store with kapa for fragrance, games, sports, and medicinally. Maile was important to Laka, the goddess of hula, and was used at her altar. The species has had a recent name change to stellata. Propagation is easy by seeds and more complicated with cuttings; treated seeds sprout in 2-4 weeks, and initial growth is slow but increases after 1-2 months.
To make a maile lei: sustainably harvest young, supple vine then, remove the inner stem to get that fantastic scent. The result is a limp vine that is easy to work with.
- Cultural significance
- Lei flower
- Privacy / screening
- No dangers