Along the way out I was looking makai for whales, and mauka for whatever there was to see. Both Barb and I noticed these strange naked trees with orange looking trunks. We thought they might be dead and had no idea what they were. After coming home and looking at a book about this hike we learned that they most likely are Wiliwili Trees. The Wiliwili is a native tree known to the scientific community as Erythrina sandwicensis. It found mostly in dry regions.
There is a Hawaiian legend of four sisters in Paula, (that's Pa-ula) not the girls name) in the Kau District of the island of Hawaii. One was Bald, one had wind tossed hair, one was humpbacked, but one, Moholani was beautiful. Moholani married and her child was brought up by the gods. Moholani's husband often talked to the sirens, and at last he went down into the sea with them. Moholani besought her sisters to help her find her husband; but they shrugged and said, "That big, worthless man!: Then her son came from heaven and with his lightning wrath cut the sirens into pieces. The sisters were transformed into wiliwili trees, the bald sister becoming a wiliwili with few leaves, the sister with wind tossed hair a tree whose leaves flutter in the breeze, the humpbacked sister a gnarly wiliwili. And the husband of Moholani strayed from his wife no more, for he feared the anger of his son..
Another legend says that Kapunohu's strength was so great that he once hurled a spear through 800 wiliwili trees at a single thrust.
(Legends from Marie Neal's book, "In Gardens of Hawaii", first published in 1928.)
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