In the mid-1800ʻs, one of several burgeoning industries that brought change to the Hawaiian landscape was pulu collection. Pulu is the soft, downy material that grows aroud the fronds and fiddleheads of the hāpuʻu pulu fern.
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Take a virtual walk-through of a portion of the pulu station at Nāpau using LIDAR scans of the site. [Video contains no audio]
Pulu collection was labor intensive. As Archeologist Catherine Glidden wrote of the pulu station at Nāpau, "the actual harvesting of pulu was usually completed by first cutting the stalk of the hāpuʻu with a stone tool, thus exposing the fronds and fiddleheads. The pulu was then removed with a bone scraper and placed in burlap bags" Fires were set nearby to help dry the pulu, then it was taken out and compacted once it was dry for more efficient shipping. Each tree fern produced only five ounces of material, while thirty pounds were needed to fill a single mattress.
Last updated: February 18, 2021