1. nvi. Leaf, frond, leaflet, greens; to leaf out. Lau is sometimes contracted to lā-, as lāʻī, lāʻie, lāʻō. hoʻo.lau To grow leaves; to leaf out. (PPN lau.)
I so enjoyed last week’s focus on ulu/ʻulu, I thought I would give a shout out to all the lau of the world! And I am not talking about the Chinese Lau (you might have a friend or two with that last name like Beth Maile Lau Wong of Waimea). So let’s try doing a few days of lau.
Lau has two very well known meanings. Today we will focus on lau as in leaf or frond or to leaf out. And you can see in the translation above but a contracted form of lau is lā, as in lāʻī – ti leaf. Interestingly enough, my favorite beach is a small, relatively unknown cove in Mākaha whose name is Laukīnui – big ti leaf. (note – another well known Hawaiian place names reference book says that Laukīnui is actually Lahilahi Beach. I don’t think so.) Why laukī was used rather than lāʻī? Not sure.
You can see it in the place name the shortened term for lau (lā-) in Lāʻie – leaf of the ʻieʻie. Lāʻie is home of the Mormon Temple and Brigham Young University-Hawaiʻi.
The lauaʻe fern literally means upright (aʻe) leaf. Don’t quote aʻe as being upright. That will take a whole different day to explain. It is a rough translation with aʻe referring to an upward movement.
Lauhala, the leaf of the hala, or pandanus, is just that. The leaf. The plant/tree is referred to as hala or pūhala. The leaf is the lauhala.
Another lau plant used by many practitioners of lāʻau lapaʻau (healing using medicinal herbs) is laukahi, otherwise known as the broad leafed plantain. Laukahi is used for a number of ailments, including boils and diabetes.
ʻAʻohe lau komo ʻole – Any leaf goes in (said of one who does not care whether food is clean or unclean, as long as it suppresses hunger).
ʻAwapuhi lau pala wale – Ginger leaves yellow quickly (said of a weakling who withers easily, or of anything that passes too soon).
He lau maiʻa pala ka wahine, hou aku nō ʻoe, pōhae – A woman is like a yellowed banana leaf that tears when one pokes at it (a woman does not have the strength of a man).