The Palapalai fern can be found growing in the more shady and wet areas of Big Island. The ferns were used by ancient Hawaiians to decorate hula alters to Laka, the hula goddess. Today the ferns are a favorite to use for lei making and can appear alone or in combination with other flowers.
You can find Palapalai growing all over, but excellent examples can be found up in the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park in the wetter areas of the park. The ferns grow from the ground and will have fully developed fronds as small as 6 to 8 inches long. They can grow up to 4 to 5 feet tall and usually feature only two or three fronds from a single point.