1. Redup. of kupu 1; to surge forth, as lava. (For. 6:545.) See ex., unu 2. (PPN tuputupu.)
2. n. General name for ferns on a single stem, such as kupukupu 3.
3. n. Sword fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), a long, narrow fern with many lateral divisions. Also niʻaniʻau and palapalai on Niʻihau, and ʻōkupukupu.
One of the more prolific native ferns in our islands, kupukupu can be found in a variety of locations, on all the main islands, from uka to kai. It is, as such, indigenous to the islands.
Kupukupu is the general term for a single stem type fern but it also refers to a specific fern (see photo below). This particular fern is often used in lei or placed on the hula altar to symbolize growth (in knowledge) since the word kupu means to sprout. Good kaona, this one. If you need inspiration as you seek knowledge (pursuing a degree?), perhaps having a kupukupu plant on your desk might give you much needed assistance.
Kupukupu is many times the first plant to grow from a lava field. It can be purchased as a potted plant but can also just kind of “pop up” from the earth, as it does on my property.
Mohala maikaʻi ke oho o ke kupukupu – Unfolded well are the fronds of the kupukupu (said of a handsome person).