The 'ohi'a plant is the most common native Hawaiian tree and offers a beautiful display of red to yellow flowers much of the year. As its scientific name, Metrosideros polymorpha suggests, this plant has many different morphologies, or forms.
'Ohi'a is found on every major Hawaiian island, in dry and wet habitats, and at most elevations. Depending on where it is growing, the species can be low ground cover, shrubs, small trees, or tall trees growing to the top of the forest canopy. Full-grown 'ohi'a plants range from less than 1 foot to over 50 feet tall!
Despite this remarkable structural diversity, scientists have studied the genetics of 'ohi'a and found that its different forms often have very similar genetics. Populations of different forms interbreed and cannot always be distinguished by their DNA.