Freycinetia arborea

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Freycinetia

Species

arborea

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • ʻIe
  • ʻIeʻie

Hawaiian Names

  • Ie
  • Ieie

Synonyms

  • Freycinetia arnottii
  • Freycinetia hivaoaensis
  • Freycinetia longispicata
  • Freycinetia monticola

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Indigenous

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Sprawling Shrub
  • Vine

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Tall, Greater than 10

Mature Size, Width

The sprawling or climbing lianas grow to nearly 60 feet with a spread of 15 or more feet.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent

Additional Landscape Use Information

As yet, this spectacular species is not commonly seen in the urban landscape. It is hoped that one day it will be readily available for the landscape.

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Showy

Flower Colors

  • Light Orange
  • Orange
  • Pink

Additional Flower Color Information

The tiny flowers in the inflorescences (group of flowers) accompanied by the fleshy pinkish to salmon-orange bracts make for a nice floral display.

Blooming Period

  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

After flowering, female plants produce fruiting spadices (a spike of crowded flowers on a fleshy stem) with numerous red berries.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Ants and associated pests such as scale, mealybug, aphids.

leaf Growth Requirements

Water Requirements

  • Moist

Additional Water Information

ʻIeʻie does well in moist to wet conditions.

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Tolerances

  • Wind

Soils

  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 150 to 1000, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 2000 to 2999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 3000 to 3999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 4000 to 4999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 4000 to 4999, Greater than 100 (Wet)

Additional Habitat Information

ʻIeʻie (Freycinetia arborea) is indigenous and native not only to most of the Main Hawaiian Islands, but also in the Marquesas Islands (Hiva Oa, Nuku Hiva), Society Islands (Moorea), Austral Islands (Rapa Iti), Cook Islands (Rarotonga), New Caledonia, and a single unsubstaniated record from Samoa (Saviʻi).

In the Hawaiian Islands, this is a fairly common plant and found mostly in mesic to wet forests in exposed ridges and slopes, and rooting or ascending both native or alien trees, from about 985 to over 4900 feet in elevation.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

ʻIeʻie (Freycinetia arborea) belongs to the Screw pine family (Pandanaceae) with about 180 species in the genus Freycinetia throughout Asia, Malesia, the Pacific islands, Australia (Queensland), Norfolk Island, and New Zealand.

The only other native relative in the islands, also indigenous, is hala (Pandanus tectorius).

Etymology

The genus Freycinetia is named in after Captain Loius de Freycinet (1779-1840), commander of the French exploration on board of which was Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré, the first Western botanist to come to the Hawaiian Islands.

The Latin specific epithet arborea means "tree-like" or "of the trees" suggestng its habit of climbing trees.

Background Information

ʻIeʻie fruit and flowers are a favorite food of the endangered Hawaiian crow or ʻAlalā (Corvus hawaiiensis). [9,11] The honeycreeper, ʻŌʻū (Psittirostra psittacea), has a specialized bill for extracting and eating the fruits whole. These birds were important for the plant pollination and seed dispersal in the past, but are now very rare or possibly extinct. [9,11,18] Other honeycreepers, such as the extinct ʻakialoa's (Hemignathus spp.) and Greater ʻamakihi (H. sagittirosris) probed the sheathed leaf bases with their long tongues for insects. [18,19]

Presently, one of the primary pollinators appears to be the alien bird Mejiro or Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus) introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in 1929 to Oʻahu and 1937 to Hawaiʻi Island. [6,9]

Early Hawaiian Use

Fiber from ʻIeʻie Roots:

The aerial roots of ʻieʻie were used to make many useful items by early Hawaiians. After the roots were gathered, perhaps stripped on the bark, and then baked in an earth oven (imu) to soften them before use. If not used immediately, the root fiber were dried, coiled, and stored for future use. When needed, they were soaked in water and plaited into baskets or other objects upon which the material would set up again in the characteristic brittle wicker state.

The durable twined baskets (hīnaʻi), usually with lids, were the finest in the Hawaiian Islands and all of Polynesia! [16] Somtimes narrow bands of black dyed ʻieʻie straps were added for contrast with the undyed reddish brown fibers. [3,4,14] The strong root fibers were also fashioned into fish traps (hīnaʻi hoʻoluʻuluʻu), fish-carrying baskets (hīnaʻi hoʻomoem iʻa), gourd (ipu) wrapper for poi storage, to protect ipu containers, [17] idols, cordage, musical instruments [2,3,14,16] such as handle wrapping for ʻulīʻulī (ipu rattles), [17] for sandals, and for tying thatch on house roofs. Women also made traps for shrimp in streams. [21] Additionally, the fibers were used as the framework for wicker helmets (mahiole), feathered helmets (haka), feathered cloaks, and kāhili. [7,8,12,14,15,16]

Lei:

The beautiful orange-yellow bracts were used for lei. [1]

Medicinal:

Shoots and leaves laid over sheets in bed for severe body pain. The shoots were pounded with other plants, squeezed, and the juice giving to strengthen children with general debility. The stems were pounded with other plants, squeezed, and the juice taken for menstrual problems. [13] A tea was boiled to help a woman after birth to stop blood flow. [20]

Religion:

ʻIeʻie branches were one of only five plants placed on hālau hula altars. [3,5]

Modern Use

As common as ʻieʻie is seen in the wild, it is not seen much in cultivation, even at botanical gardens. It is hoped that this spectacular plant will one day be seen as a common part of Hawaiian landscapes.

Additional References

[1] "Nā Lei Makamae--The Treasured Lei" by Marie A. McDonald & Paul R. Weissich, pages 26-27.

[2] "Trees and Other Plants Used by Early Hawaiians" by C.S. Judd, page

[3] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, pages 28, 29, 41, 42, 76, 114, 115, 116, 80, 81.

[4] "Lāʻau Hawaiʻi--Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants" by Isabella Aiona Abbott, pages 63, 75-76, 105, 107-109, 117-118.

[5] "Hawaiian Dictionary" by Mary Kawena Pukui & Samuel H. Elbert, page 94.

[6] "Hawaiian Birdlife" by Andrew J. Berger, page 149.

[7] "Trees and Other Plants Used by Early Hawaiians" by C.S. Judd, page

[8] Volcano Art Center, Niaulani Plant Guide. www.volcanoartcenter.org [Accessed 4/7/10]

[9] "Extinction of the Hawaiian avifauna resulted in a change of pollinators for the ieie, Freycinetia arborea" OIKOS, Vol. 41, No. 2, pages 195-199.

[10] "Hawaii's Birds" by the Hawaii Audubon Society, page 109.

[11] Hawaiian Encyclopediea http://www.hawaiianencyclopedia.com [Accessed 4/7/10]

[12] "Plants of the Canoe People" by W. Arthur Whistler, 120-121.

[13] "Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value," by D.M. Kaaiakamanu & J.K. Akina, page 22.

[14] "Pacific Basket Makers: A Living Tradition." Suzi Jones (Editor), pages 53-54.

[15] "Resource Units in Hawaiian Culture" by Donald D. Kilolani Mitchell, pages  99-100, 103.

[16] "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, page 54.

[17] "Hawaiian and Other Polynesian Gourds" by Ernest S. Dodge, pages 39-40, 79.

[18] "The Hawaiian Honeycreeper: Drapandidae" by H. Douglas Pratt, pages 18, 130.

[19] "Hawaiian Natural History, and Evolution" by Alan C. Ziegler, page 270.

[20] "Listen to the Forest" video and narration by Eddie Kamae. Interview with Henry Auwae, Kahuna Lāʻau Lapaʻau. [Accessed on 5/27/13]

[21] "Kauai Natural Area Reserve Ethnobotanical Guide: Hawaiian Flora," a pamphlet provided by the Dept. of Forestry & Wildlife.

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