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ti lei for Lahaina community event

Honored to have joined Mahana, MiraTerevarevahaunui, and numerous volunteers to create la’i kaula—a ti leaf cord lei for Lahaina, with the intention of providing protection and healing to the community.

While I had previously made lei po’o (head lei) and simple strung lei, this twisted ti leaf lei was a first. My daughter and Mahana kindly showed me how to twist ti leaves into perfect strands. I, in turn, passed on this knowledge to the next person who wished to join, a surfer who had just finished riding the waves. What a wonderful way to share knowledge, introduce people to tradition and culture, and spend some moments of peace and healing together.

I cherished this time spent with my daughter by my side, and she proved to be an incredible worker. In just an hour, she had crafted a lei three and a half times her own length!

Not only is the practice special, but the plant from which this one is made, ti, holds extra significance. Ti, also known as Cordyline fruticosa or ki in Hawaiian, is an extraordinary plant with cultural, decorative, and practical importance, serving various purposes.

Cultural, decorative, culinary, and cosmetics uses of ti

Cultural: In Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures, ti is frequently used in traditional ceremonies and rituals, regarded as a sacred plant associated with good luck, protection, and spirituality.

Decorative: If you’re not from Hawai’i but have visited, you’ve seen it as a popular ornamental plant with striking and colorful foliage, often planted in front of and around people’s homes for luck and protection. It’s very easy to propagate and care for.

Culinary: Ti leaves can be used for wrapping and steaming food, adding a subtle flavor. Lau lau, anyone?

Cosmetic: After we finished crafting this ti lei for Lahaina, our hands were left sticky—ti plant extracts contain compounds that help hydrate and moisturize the skin. These properties can be harnessed in moisturizers, lotions, and skincare products designed to combat dry skin. I’ve certainly seen it used as a hydrosol.

It was a special experience bringing my 7-year-old daughter to this ritual, which beautifully exemplifies the community’s resilience and care.


Check out these popular blog articles:

> 10 Tropical Flowers For Beauty & Cosmetics

> Foraging with Sunny Savage

> Maui Farm Tour: Punakea Farms

Hope to see you in paradise soon!

Making Ti Lei For Lahaina


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