Ōhi'a Lehuna | Hawaii Plant Life

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‘Ōhi‘a ‘ai (Mountain apple)

The ʻōhiʻa ʻai is a member of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) and is related to other plants like guava and eucalyptus.


Taste of Mountain Apples


The texture of mountain apples is crisp and crunchy, similar to some apple varieties. However, the texture can vary slightly depending on the ripeness of the fruit. While often called “mountain apples,” the taste and texture are distinct from traditional apples. Some people compare the flavor to a mild rose water or suggest that it resembles a watermelon-like crunch with apple undertones.


Origin of the Hawaiian Mountain Apple


The ʻōhiʻa ʻai is believed to be native to Malaysia. It is thought to have been introduced to Hawaii by early Polynesian settlers who brought plants and crops with them as they migrated across the Pacific.


The ʻōhiʻa ʻai is part of the Myrtaceae family, which also includes guava. The tree is well-suited to Hawaii’s tropical climate and is commonly found in the islands, especially in moist or rainforest areas. It is known for its beautiful, bright red or green fruits, which resemble small apples.


The name “ʻōhiʻa ʻai” translates to “ʻōhiʻa” (a native Hawaiian tree, Metrosideros polymorpha) that is “eaten” (ʻai). This name reflects the traditional Hawaiian use of the fruit as a food source.


The tree has cultural significance in Hawaiian folklore and is associated with the ʻōhiʻa lehua tree, which has its own rich mythology. The mountain apple is not only valued for its fruit but also for its attractive, glossy foliage and fragrant flowers.


While the exact timeline of the introduction of mountain apples to Hawaii is not precisely documented, it is clear that they have become an integral part of the islands’ flora and are enjoyed for their delicious taste and cultural importance.

common Name

Mountain apple

Scientific Name

Syzygium malaccense



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