ʻŌhiʻa was a handsome young man. Pele, the volcano goddess, tried to woo him but ʻŌhiʻa refused because he was in love with a young woman named Lehua. Riled in jealousy, Pele transformed ʻŌhiʻa into a tree. Lehua was devastated by her loss. Out of pity, the other gods turned her into a flower and placed her upon the ʻōhiʻa tree so that the two lovers could always be together. Some say that when a lehua flower is picked from an ʻōhiʻa tree, the sky will fill with rain, representing the waimaka (tears) of the separated lovers.
The wood of the ʻōhiʻa, as well as its flowers and leaves, have many uses in Hawaiian culture, and the esteemed blossom is often seen in beautiful lei. Unfortunately, a fungal disease called Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD), has infected over a million ʻōhiʻa, causing this important plant to die. There is no cure yet for ROD, so we must all help to stop the spread of ROD and ensure that this native plant lives on in perpetuity.
This print was created in partnership with Kaille Harris, an incredibly talented watercolor and digital artist and owner of Under the Moon.