~Dwarf Hau Tree
In the old days this plant was so highly valued that permission to cut it was required of the village chief. Today it is often called “hau bush” and is termed an invasive plant, as it has taken over some areas where acres are covered high with hau, at the same time creating windbreaks and stabilizing the soil.
Seeds and cuttings of hau were brought by early Polynesian voyagers to Hawai`i Nei, and planted by the settlers to yield a light-weight tough white wood with a brown heart. Hau is found and used throughout tropical and subtropical Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia and is held in high regard for its usefulness to the traditional life of oceanic people.
More commonly known as mahoe or sea hibiscus, hau tree (Hibiscus tiliaceus) is a large evergreen shrub or small tree that may reach heights of between 12 and 25 feet tall. The shrub is notable for its heart-shaped leaves and five-petaled, funnel-shaped blooms, which open throughout the growing season to showcase lemon yellow flowers darkened in the center with maroon. The flowers last for a single day, turning reddish before dropping.