‘Ohe makai – Polyscias sandwicensis
Location: Waimea Botanical Garden
Year Nominated: 2012
Nominated by: Mark Lewing
Height: 68 feet
Circumference: 60 inches
Crown Spread: 35 feet
Total Points: 136.75
Current Ranking: State Champion
This ʻOhe makai was crowned our very first State Big Tree Champion! Mahalo to Montana big tree hunting enthusiast, Mark Lewing for the nomination and positive encouragement. Mahalo to Waimea Valley Conservation Manager, Laurent Pool for your enthusiasm and help locating the tree.
The ʻOhe makai is an increasingly rare endemic tree of Hawaiʻi, and naturally grows in dry to mesic forest environments from about 100 to 2,600 feet in elevation. It is one of few deciduous trees in Hawaiʻi, which means all its leaves fall in the summer months. In early Hawaiʻi, ʻohe makai wood was used to make kukuluaeʻo, or aeʻo which are wooden stilts that children and even men enjoyed walking on. The fruits of the ʻohe makai were eaten by mothers who believed that through their breast milk, they could cure their babies of pāʻaoʻao, or physical weakness, and ʻea, or thrush.