Mānoa Heritage Center




Heteropogon contortus


Found on dry, rocky sites on all the main Hawaiian islands. The grass was used extensively for thatching houses, but also for stuffing mattresses and padding floors. Pili was used as tinder to start fires. Hawaiians favored the use of pili in a home due to its pleasant odor. Pili means to cling, adhere, or join in Hawaiian. It was named pili because of the way it sticks to the neighbors as it grows.