- Common name of the lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha, usually referred to as "ohi'a lehua) and Malay Apple (Syzygium malaccense), two species of flowering trees found in the Pacific tropics
Ohia refers to the Hawaiian name given to two related trees of the Myrtle family.
In the United States, the most well-known of these two is the ohi'a lehua (often simply "lehua" or "ohi'a"), a flowering tree native to Hawaii. One of the most common trees found on the island of Hawaii, the flowers of the ohi'a lehua are usually red, but are occasionally spotted in shades of yellow and pink. The plant features in traditional Hawaiian mythology and medicine, and its blossom is recognized as the official flower of the island (Hawaii's state flower is the yellow hibiscus).
The other type of ohia is known commonly as the Malay or Mountain Apple. Native to regions of South-East Asia such as Malaysia and Indonesia, it has since spread throughout the tropics. This type of ohia (as it is called in Hawaii) is distinguished by the round, reddish fruit it bears.
The word ohia is Hawaiian in origin. Its first known usage stems from the Hawaiian myth commonly known as "Pele's Revenge," in which the young man Ohi'a is transformed into a tree after spurning the goddess Pele. The word became a part of the English lexicon in the early 19th century.
From Gary R. Varner's The Gods of Man: Gods of Nature - God of War
The gods and goddesses also lived within the trees of old Hawaii. The goddess of the ohia-lehua forest is one of those. The flower of the ohia tree is considered sacred and to pick it is forbidden unless proper invocations are said.
Here, the author is describing the mythical and spiritual meaning placed on Ohia tree. Something to keep in mind during your next Hawaiian vacation!
- Oh, here are the red flowers of ohi'a!
Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of ohia. Did you use ohia in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.