Weaving Canoe Plants | Maui Ocean Center

Park Hours 9 AM - 5 PM

Hawaiian Canoe Plants: Weaving

Canoe plants are plants brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Polynesian voyagers who arrived centuries ago. These plants played an important role in the survival and cultural development of the Hawaiian people.


Canoe plants can be found all across the Hawaiian islands, from botanical gardens, to cultural sites, and even along hiking trails. When you visit these locations, you as a visitor will appreciate the resourcefulness these Polynesian explorers brought with them to Hawai’i.


Interested in learning more about Maui’s plant life? Reserve your spot on our Hawaiian Culture and Botanical Tour and dive into our island’s flora today.


Coconut Cordage (‘Aha)

The coconut palm wasn’t just a source of food and drink for Hawaiians. Its husks provided some of the strongest natural fibers, perfect for crafting cords and ropes. This material played an important role in canoe-building and fishing, as it grips firmly and tightens when wet.


Small Woven Baskets (Lauhala Basket)

Tightly woven lauhala baskets, made from the leaves of the hala tree, were a traditional way to carry belongings.


Woven Fans (Lauhala Fan)

These fans were made from lauhala (leaves of the hala tree) and ‘ohe (bamboo), which served as the central handle.


Hala Tree Dried Leaves (Lauhala)

In Hawaiian, “lau” translates to “leaf,” specifically referencing the leaves of the hala tree. This plant—considered to be both native and a canoe plant—provides raw materials for a variety of woven items, including mats, canoe sails, hats, baskets, and skirts.

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