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Legend of Naupaka Flower

Legend of Naupaka Flower


Naupaka a shrub found in the mountains or near the ocean. Naupaka is a half of a flower, missing petals on the entire other half, it is a unique looking flower due to its missing petals. The Early Hawaiians believe it was the incarnation of an ancient native separated from her lover.

In ancient Hawaii, there are a few versions of this legend. But I am going tell you this one. Once upon a time in ancient Hawaii lived a beautiful princess named Naupaka. She was loved by everyone who knew her. She was just as kind as she was beautiful. One day while walking along the beach, Naupaka encountered a handsome fisherman named Kaui. When their eyes met, he smiled and told her his name was Kaui. They fell in love at first site.


Realizing that she was royalty and Kaui a common fisherman, Princess Naupaka knew that she was prohibited from marrying him. She rushed to one of the Kupunas (elders) in the village who was well known for her wisdom. As Naupaka described her love for Kaui, the Kupuna sadly shook her head and said “I cannot help you for your marriage to Kaui is prohibited by Hawaiian custom. Your only hope is to see the high priest and ask his permission.”

Naupaka and Kaui travelled for days over beautiful mountains, forests, valleys, and streams in search of the high priest. Once they finally found him they excitedly revealed their love for one another to him and asked if he could allow them to marry. The priest told them “I can see that you have great love for each other but I cannot give permission for you to marry as that decision can only come from the Gods. You must pray to them until you receive an answer.”


As they began to pray, dark clouds came overhead and a fierce rain fell upon them. Lightning struck nearby and thunder boomed. Princess Naupaka realized that the Gods would not allow them to marry and tore the flower from her hair and ripped it in half. She gave half to Kaui and said to him: “We cannot be together. You must go back to the ocean where you can fish. I will live the rest of my life on this mountain alone.”


As the two lovers separated, the Naupaka plants that grew nearby saw how sad they were. Even the flowers mourned to see the young lover’s hearts broken so badly. As a memorial to their love, when the Naupaka flower blooms, it only blooms in halves. Today, there are two varieties of the Naupaka, one growing near the sea called Naupaka Kahakai, the other in the mountain is called Naupaka Kauihiwa. Each bear what appears to be half of a blossom and when placed together, they form a perfect flower. It is said that the lovers can be reunited when the flower of the Naupaka Kauihiwi and the Naupaka Kahakai are joined together after they have been picked.



Fun Facts

1. The Naupaka Leaves can be used when broken in half to de-fog your diving goggles. The liquid inside the leaf is rubbed on the goggles and rinsed.

2. It is one of the most widely used landscapes plants on the islands.

3. The fruits were once eaten in a time of famine.

4. Mix with salt, the fruit or the root bark was used for wounds, cuts, scraps and diseased skin.

5. Today flower and fruit is used in lei making.

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