S.B. NO.














relating to the state tree.





     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree, also known as Metrosideros polymorpha, is a truly unique symbol of Hawaii and the ideal candidate for the state tree.  This tree is a keystone of the islands' ecology and indigenous culture.  Ecologically speaking, ‘ōhi‘a lehua is an endemic species, found nowhere else in the world, and holds the honor of being the longest living tree in Hawaii forests.  Its species epithet, polymorpha, alludes to the many growth forms that this tree can take on—from its height to its leaf type to the color of its flowers.  These many forms are what allow ‘ōhi‘a lehua to be the only native tree that can be found growing from the coast-line to the tree-line, from dry forests to rain forests, and from the newest lava flows on the island of Hawai‘i to the oldest soils of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau.  It is estimated that ‘ōhi‘a lehua covers more than one million acres statewide.  It is a host to native birds, insects, and the only native land animal the ‘ōpe‘ape‘a, Hawaiian hoary bat, and is one of the most important co-evolutionary partners to help create dozens of Hawaii's biological treasures found only in the islands.

     The legislature further finds that the magnificence and beauty of ‘ōhi‘a lehua holds historical and cultural significance.  It is the most frequently mentioned plant in Hawaiian poetry, song, and chant.  Hawaiians tell its origin story of two lovers destroyed by lava who came back joined in one body form, with the strong wood being the male and the delicate flower the female.  Because of this, ‘ōhi‘a lehua has become a symbol of rebirth after devastation and of the necessary balance between masculine and feminine.

     Beyond symbolism, ‘ōhi‘a lehua is the foundation of a plethora of customs and traditions.  Most notably, its hard wood is used for tools and construction while its foliage and flowers are used in many kinds of lei and other adornment.  The role of ‘ōhi‘a lehua in Hawaii's natural and cultural history, along with its enduring presence in Hawaii's forests and its awe-inspiring grandeur and beauty have resulted in this tree being embraced by many who now call Hawaii home.  It is for these reasons and more that this tree is one of the most important trees to Hawaii's indigenous culture.

     The legislature also finds that today, rapid ‘ōhi‘a death threatens ‘ōhi‘a lehua on the island of Hawaii and potentially across the State.  This disease is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata and has killed hundreds of thousands of ‘ōhi‘a lehua trees across more than thirty-four thousand acres.

     The purpose of this Act is to designate ‘ōhi‘a lehua as the official state tree.

     SECTION 2.  Section 5-8, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

     "§5-8  State tree.  The [kukui tree, also known as the candlenut tree (Aleurites Moluccana),] ohia lehua tree (Metrosideros polymorpha) is adopted, established, and designated as the official tree of the State, to be effective so long as the legislature of the State does not otherwise provide."

     SECTION 3.  Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken.  New statutory material is underscored.

     SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.








Report Title:

State Tree; Ohia Lehua



Designates the ohia lehua tree as the official tree of the State.




The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.