Hala (Pandanus tectorius)
Location: Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii
Here is one of two Hala trees (Pandanus tectorius) that are growing in our palm garden. They are not really palms, but they seem to fit well amongst the 'real' palms. We acquired this one as a tiny sprout.
We were hiking on a coastal trail in the northern part of our island. We stopped to rest near a very large wild Hala tree, and we noticed a few newly germinated seeds on the ground beneath it. I picked one up to look at it. A tiny green sprout had just barely emerged from the nut-like seed. I put it into my pocket, and when we got home, we planted it. Here it is about five years later. We have a second offspring of the same 'mama' Hala, which we collected while hiking on the same trail about two years after we found the first one.
This one is just starting to show the aerial prop roots characteristic of the Hala. In the traditional Hawaiian culture, the leaf blades of this tree (called lau hala) are dried and used to make baskets and woven mats. The leaf blades grow in a spiral pattern around the trunk. As they fall off or are removed, they leave marks on the trunk that create an interesting textured pattern.
Update: Here is a close-up photo of the Hala tree trunk.