January 21, 2015 -- The Ohia Lehua blooms are beautiful, but not to be touched if you are to listen to the Big Island Folklore. The Ohia tree is often the first plant to grow on new lava flows and I saw many within the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park. As the legend is told, Ohia and Lehua were young lovers. He was a handsome warrior and she was the most beautiful and gentle girl on the island. But, one day the volcano goddess Pele came across Ohia and wanted him for herself. When he refused her, she turned him into the twisted, ugly Ohia tree. Madame Pele ignored Lehua's pleas to change him back, but the other gods felt sorry for the young girl. They turned Lehua into a beautiful red flower and placed her on the tree so that the two young lovers would never again be apart. It is said that as long as the beautiful red flowers remain on the tree, the weather is sunny and fair. But when a flower is plucked from the tree, rain falls like tears since Lehua still cannot bear to be separated from her beloved Ohia.
Although I took only photos of the Ohia Lehua trees, the day I hiked through the Kilauea Iki Crater was in a torrential downpour!