Lama and Hulumoa


Ka Māuikiʻikiʻi o ka Hoʻoilo
(The Winter Solstice)

Photo: Lama, decorated with liko lama and K. remyana
Lama, decorated with liko lama and K. remyana, thrives in dry lavalands. – Photo: KPT
Photo: K. complanata
K. complanata, shown growing on olopua, has wide flat stems. – Photo: Karl Magnacca
Photo: Liko lama
Tender leaves of liko lama remind us of liko manakō. – Photo: Forest and Kim Starr

As the sun turns northward on the winter solstice, we look forward to increasing hours of light. Lama or Ēlama (Diospyros sandwicensis), our endemic ebony, is associated with light and enlightment. Among ritual uses, a block of its wood wrapped in kapa dyed with ʻōlena is included on some traditional kuahu hula (hula altars). Male and female trees are separate, though both host hulumoa (or kaumahana), our mistletoe (Korthalsella sp.).

Photo: Piʻoi
Piʻoi (hua lama) up to an inch long punctuate branches. Red fruits are ripe. – Photo: PB

Whether endemic or native, our six species of hulumoa are parasitic, and also inhabit other endemic trees such as koaiʻa, ʻōhiʻa, ʻōpiko, olopua, and koa.

Rounded dark green crowns of lama punctuate its home in dryland or moist forests, while bronze-colored liko, and bright red or yellow fruits add flashes of color. Hua lama are edible, but unripe ones are surprisingly tart, like those of its cousin persimmon.