A scrambling native vine native to Hawaiʻi. Related to blackberry, this ʻākala is the exception to the rule of “native plants don’t have thorns.” It’s closer to sharp hairs than sharp thorns. And not all ʻākala will have thorns, even in the same forest. It’s an unpleasant surprise when you touch an ʻākala only to dig thorns out of your hand later. ʻĀkala is somewhat deciduous because their leaves are lost for a brief time in the winter.
ʻĀkala translates to ‘pink’ in Hawaiian, which is also the color of ʻākala berry juice. The berries were used to dye kapa. The late great botanist Joseph Rock called them ‘giant raspberry’. Indeed, the berries are huge, especially when compared to other members of the Rubus genus. The berries are a little bitter, so be sure they are completely ripe before eating. It is a tasty treat to find while hiking in the native forest! Unfortunately, there are many invasive species within the Rubus genus, so please check out our other Plant Pono pages to be aware of what they look like.
- Cultural significance
- Privacy / screening
- Thorns or spines
- No dangers