He’e berry leis are made with round clusters of deep red berries from the Hawaiian he’e plant. This makes an interesting lei for any celebration. A he’e berry lei can also be worn as a graduation lei. Locally we use mock orange leaves between the berry spheres. For mainland shipments we use ti leaf to comply with agricultural rules. Both give a rich mix of red and green to this popular lei. This is one of the more durable Hawaiian leis.
It is pronounced ‘hay-ay’. The name is the Hawaiian word for octopus which refers to the tentacle forms along which the berries grow. The unusual clumps of berry stalks appear in various places throughout the tree.
The berries are a somewhat recent arrival to Hawaii from southeast Asia. In fact the tree spreads quite rapidly and can be considered invasive. In some cases the fast growing tree has to be controlled to prevent crowding out other native Hawaiian trees. This doesn’t stop modern lei makers from using the fruit for making these charming leis. And birds love the taste which also helps the tree propagate.
The he’e berry lei is suitable for men or women. We also use he’e berries with tuberose for a bright, fragrant and feminine lei. Tuberose is a sensitive flower and should always be worn right away.
After receiving your he’e berry lei you just place it in a closed bag or plastic container and refrigerate until ready to wear.
The other name for this plant is the Christmas berry due to its festive red color. This is a great lei to wear at Christmas or any time. This lei can be dried just by letting it hang indoors for a few days creating a wonderful souvenir lei.
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