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Growing Flowers & Lei Making

Part of "Growing Food"



This Course segment focuses on the growing of lei flowers as a possible activity of kuleana homesteading. Growing lei flowers supports the continuation of Hawaiian cultural traditions of lei making and lei giving.

Kuleana homesteaders, as well as those who make lei, play an important role in preserving native plant communities and native Hawaiian culture. Living one's kuleana can mean simply growing the plants needed for lei rather than gathering the materials from wild, natural areas. In this way, the pressure on wild-growing flowering plants can be minimized.


The flowers, leaves and plant materials of a lei hold great meaning in Hawaiian cultural tradition. It is more than a decorative gesture. A lei, its making, giving and wearing have a spiritual significance that involves kinolau, kuleana, and deeply felt significance that transcends words.

The tradition of lei-making brings us closer to the heart of Hawaiian worldview. In her beautifully written and widely shared article ethnobotanist Puanani O. Anderson-Fung tells us that:

  "Especially important is the message that we, as Hawaiians, benefit in many ways by growing and caring for native plants, not the least of which is that it brings us closer to the culture of our ancestors."


Start this Course segment by watching a video of Kumu Ānuenue Pūnua and her two daughters they shows us how they work with traditional Hawaiian plants and flowers. Then visit the other Useful Links to deepen your understanding of the importance and variety of Hawaiian lei flowers in Hawai‘i.

> Back to Course 4: Growing Food

Useful Links:
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Ānuenue Pūnua and her two daughters show you how to make 3 types of lei and shares her stories of learning from her mother.

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VIDEO: How to Make a Haku Lei in Wili Style

Straightforward steps to make your own Hawaiian haku lei using the "wili," or wrapping, technique.

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Selecting Plants for Pollinators

A Hawai‘i-specific guide to choosing appropriate pollinators to enhance flower and fruit production.

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A partial but visually helpful guide to some of the flowers that grow in Hawai‘i, this can serve as a starting point to plan your lei flower farm or lei garden.

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A comprehensive visual guide to the flowers used in Hawaiian lei and their optimal growing conditions. From UH Mānoa CTAHR.

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VIDEO: Lei Making in Hāna

A class session of lei making with Kumu Lei, Kumu Anjo, & Kumu Landa in Hāna showing different styles of lei. Learn how to kui a lei with Kumu.

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7 Popular Flowers for Lei

From Hawaii Magazine, a list, pictures and background of popular flowers for lei making.

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