Big Tree: Hala
Common Name: Screwpine
Scientific Name: Pandanus tectorius
Range: Hala can be found growing in moist coastal locations and valley slopes up to an elevation of 2,000 ft. Hala have been found throughout the Hawaiian islands with the exception of Kaho’olawe. Extensive Hala forests can be found along the Hawaii island coast.
Threats: The Pandanus scale insect (Thysanococcus pandani) was introduced to Hala trees on Maui in 1999. Presently, the scale has spread to virtually all areas of Maui, killing younger Hala plants and rendering leaves of mature trees useless to traditional weavers. Though the Hawaii Dept of Agriculture is currently searching for a suitable bio-control agent for these beetles, Hala leaf weavers (lauhala), have implemented conservation efforts aimed at protecting Hala trees as well.
About this Species: Early Hawaiians used Hala extensively in their everyday lives, incorporating materials from this tree species into their canoes, clothing, games, and houses. During famine, the sweet fresh fruit tips of the Hala could be relied upon as a source of food. Hala continues to be recognized as an important resource within Hawaiian culture.
Photos by Forest & Kim Starr.