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The legends and the uses of Ti leaves

Next time you’re walking around Halekulani, take a moment to notice the plants that are thriving on the four corners of our property. They are ti plants, and they are situated around one of the best hotels in the world, to celebrate the legacy and tradition of our local culture.

Ti plants were brought to the islands by the Polynesians, who considered them to have divine power. Today, Native Hawaiians believe that growing ti plants around a home brings good luck.

To ward off evil spirits, a ti leaf lei may be worn, like a horseshoe, around the neck. Some Hawaiians might carry a single leaf for good luck.

The ti leaf is as versatile as it is beloved. It has a variety of uses, from rain capes, sandals and hula skirts, to thatches for houses, plates, food wrappers and whistles. In hukilau fishing, dry leaves are fastened to nets to help bring fish into shallower water. The root of the plant also has many uses. Hawaiians steamed ti root in imu (ovens in the ground) to be eaten as a sweet. The root was also fermented and distilled to make a brandy called ökolehao.

Hawaiian legend says if a person worries that a shark or supernatural creature is lurking in a body of water, they should throw in a ti leaf. If it floats the water is safe for swimming, if it sinks the water isn’t safe.

Halekulani continues to keep the ti plants alive and thriving throughout our Waikiki resort hotel. Ask one of our Concierges to point out these versatile and beautiful plants on our property.

In the year that we’re celebrating 30 years of unsurpassed excellence in our hotel, we’ll be posting more stories about the legacy and history of one of the finest of all Hawaii hotels, Halekulani, the “House Befitting Heaven”.