Lauaʻe

  1. n. A fragrant fern (Phymatosorus scolopendria syn. Microsorium scolopendria); when crushed, its fragrance suggests that of maile; famous for its fragrance an Kauaʻi (see lauaʻe 2). Pieces were strung in pandanus lei between the keys. See chant, punia. (Neal 27.)
  1. nvs. Beloved, sweet, of a lover. Ka ipo lauaʻe o Makana, the sweet beloved of Makana [reference to the famous lauaʻe ferns of Makana, Kauaʻi]. hoʻo.lauaʻe To cherish, as a beloved memory. I ka make ʻana o kāna kāne, ua hoʻolauaʻe aʻela ʻo ia i ke aloha, at the death of her husband, she cherished the loving memory.
  1. Same as lauaʻe haole.
  1. vt. To gather together, collect. 
  1. (Cap.) n. Wind, Honopū, Kauaʻi. (Nak. 58.)

I love lauaʻe for many reasons. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be crushed to smell its sweet fragrance. Even when the rain alights upon it, its scent can be smelled. So sweet. Just like maile. But even just its name: lau aʻe. An upright leaf. It has good kaona (hidden meaning). Lau poetically refers to many or numerous. Aʻe is a directional meaning upwards. So it brings up the connotation of multiplying, growing upwards toward the heavens. If you use it in the context of knowledge you are denoting knowledge to grow forth profusely. See what I mean? Gotta love that.

lauaʻe

lauaʻe

All that great info being said, I am here to inform you that the lauaʻe that we commonly seen growing in our islands is NOT a native plant. I know. It is hard to believe. In fact, it is considered an INVASIVE species by some. As for me, I don’t consider it invasive. I use it in lei making. And its kaona makes it valuable to me.

There is a native lauaʻe (mahalo to Sam Gon of the Nature Conservancy for his kōkua on this) Microsorum spectrum, also known as peʻahi. It, too, has the fragrance of the maile and is the reason the lauaʻe that we know today was given the same name.

Peʻahi

Peʻahi

Copyright: 2015 – Liana Iaea Honda. All rights reserved. All versions of “He Momi e Lei ai”, in its entirety, past and present, is the property of L. K. I. Honda. Reproduction and use of any kind other than the sharing of this website is prohibited. Alteration to the original content in any form is prohibited in every and any instance, and use in any other variant is prohibited without written consent of the author. Adress inquiries to: hemomi [at] gmail.com. Definitions and wise sayings are from: Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert, 1986. ʻŌlelo Noʻeau – Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings by Mary Kawena Pukui, 1983.

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