Kupukupu | Hawaiian Plant Life
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Kupukupu – Nephrolepis cordifolia


Common name: Hawaiian Fern, Sword Fern

Status: Native

Scientific name: Nephrolepis cordifolia

Where to Find: Lava fields 

Kupukupu ferns are excellent at surviving in harsh conditions. They can often be found growing on rocky soil in sunny, dry environments. This species is notable for being one of the first to colonize lava fields and turn basalt rock into soil for other plants to move into the area. Within Hawaiian culture, kupukupu symbolizes growth and knowledge. For this reason they are often used to decorate hula altars, and can be seen planted near places of learning. Unfortunately, there are 3 invasive species of ferns that closely resemble this native species, and hybridization is often seen between them.

Did You Know?
In ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language), “kupu” means “to sprout."