Nuku ‘I‘iwi (Strongylodon macrobotrys)
Common Name: Jade Vine
Post-Contact Introduction: Native to Philippines.
Family: Fabaceae—Pea Family
The thickly textured blue-green or turquoise flowers of the jade vine are referred to as “beaked” flowers, due to their pointed beak-like shape, which is also sometimes described as horn-like.
The blossoms of nuku ‘i‘iwi are about 3 to 3½ inches (7 to 9 cm) long, and grow in long clusters up to 18 inches (46 cm) long. The flowers usually bloom just for a few weeks between February and June, though they sometimes bloom as late as November.
Nuku ‘i‘iwi flowers turn from blue-green to a lavender color, and are often woven into flattened maunaloa style lei, with the flowers threaded crosswise using the kui lau method, alternating their direction in a back and forth pattern. (See Lei Making Methods.) A standard 40-inch 100-cm) lei requires about 90 to 100 blossoms.
Nuku ‘i‘iwi is a twining climber that may exceed 70 feet (21 m) in length. A red-orange variety of nuku ‘i‘iwi is a new arrival in the Hawaiian Islands.