Hapu’u I’i – A Furry Hawaiian Fern

Hapuu Coiled Fern Fronds

You may recall my post about the extraordinary hapuu tree ferns in Hawaii.  On my recent visit to the Big Island, I noticed a strange looking, furry variety that I hadn’t yet seen.  This fern is the Hapu’u I’i that is endemic to Hawaii.  The photo above shows the fern’s fiddle head (coiled frond).  It’s difficult to tell the perspective from this photo, but just to give you an idea, the size of this fiddle head is bigger that a man’s outstretched hand.  I captured this photo on the hike along the Waipio Valley rim

So what do you think of the looks of this fern?  Pretty strange, huh?


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About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

12 comments

  1. Woah! – That’s almost scary! – It looks like some sort of Elephant from Mars.

  2. LOL, Dave. It really is a bizzare sight.

  3. Yep. We have these in our backyard. Remind me to take a pic of them full grown.

  4. Aloha CoachDeb! I’d love to see that photo when they’re fully grown. I’ve seen the “standard” non-furry hapuu fern many times in Hawaii, but I hadn’t seen this furry variety until this last visit.

  5. We have lots of the regular hapu’u on our property, and a small Hapu’u I’i in a pot. I have been meaning to get around to planting it in the ground for a long time.

  6. HVG – It sounds like this i’i variety is not as commonly found. Would you say that is the case?

  7. Heya Sheila,
    I accompanied my kids’ class on a Big Island trip recently where we came across the hair from one of these things on a hiking trail in Volcanos National Park. We were kind of wierded out by it until we finally saw one of the beasts it came off of. Very interesting plant.

  8. Hey Charley – oh my, that would be a bit disturbing to see that hair along the trail. I’m sure you were relieved when you saw the source. This furry fern is a very interesting and unusual plant. Have you seen them on Kauai?

  9. What an interesting plant! At the first, casual glance, I thought it was a monkey. :)

  10. Hi Karen – the fiddle heads do look like a monkey tails, don’t they?! :)

  11. I was told that the furs were once used to stuff pillows and such before some manufacturing process made another material cheaper, imagine having a pillow stuffed with that stuff!

  12. jim – now that you’ve said that about pillows and bedding, I vaguely remember being told the same thing. Interesting!

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