The warmth of my love lets maile emit its fragrance to garland you with a lei of sweet scent
Ahhh maile…with that fragrance we adore.
Sadly, lei maile are increasingly uncommon, because the ʻike needed to go into the forest, seek out plants, properly harvest, then assemble lei, is being lost. Some of that ʻike, though, is maintained by those cultivating maile in greenhouses.
While related to plumeria, the precious fragrance of maile (Alyxia stellata) is only revealed when gatherers ʻuʻu, carefully strip bark and attached leaves from woody pith, and scented milky sap is freed. Leaf size and shape depends on birthplace and genetics, whether they be lau liʻiliʻi from Kauaʻi or lau nui of Panaʻewa.
Placed on kuahu (altars) in hālau hula, maile honors Laka. And, too, we honor loved ones when we present them with lei maile.