Identification: A shrub that is typically 3' (91 cm) in height,
it sometimes reaches 10' (3 m) high and 15' (4.6 m) wide. Waxy, succulent leaves are up to
8" (20 cm) long and about a fifth as wide. The most recognizable feature of this shrub is its half-flowers, a source of legends like the one below.
Photo by J.M.Garg.
The Hawaiian Legend of the Naupaka Flower
A beautiful woman, a stranger to the village believed to be from the mountains, fell in love
with a village youth. When he rejected her and went back to his sweetheart, the beautiful woman
followed him and tore him from his sweetheart's embrace. Anger blazed about the beautiful woman,
and the villagers knew she was Pele, Goddess of Volcanoes. Pele pursued the youth into the
mountains, hurling lava after him. There the gods took pity on the youth and transformed him
into a half flower, the 'mountain naupaka.' Pele shrieked with rage and fled on a river of lava
to the ocean. She overtook the maid, whom the gods turned into a beach naupaka. The
lovers are forever separated, for the half flowers of the youth still bloom alone in the
mountains, and the half flowers of the maiden blossom alone on the beach.