The umaumalei fish (Naso lituratus) and the ʻūlei plant (Osteomeles anthylidifolia) emerged together in the Hawaiian story of creation known as the Kumulipo. Umaumalei (a.k.a. orangespine unicornfish) is a handsome reef-dwelling surgeonfish that feeds on various kinds of brown limu (alga). Males are identified by the two streamers in their hiʻu (tail) and both sexes sport a set of curved orange spines near the hiʻu (two on either side). One chant performed by fishermen of old says "O ka Umaumalei ke lii" - The Umaumalei is the chief. This fish does have a truly regal appearance and a lovely name that roughly translates to "chest adorned with a lei." Here we see the pilina (relationship) of this fish with the ʻūlei plant, the fruits and flowers of which were used in lei. The slightly sweet fruits were a famine food and also produce a lovely purple dye for kapa. This hearty plant occurs from sea level to above 4,000 feet and is abundant in drier climates. Today we mostly see its low-lying shrub form, but at one time it grew into trees with dense and hard wood used for ʻōʻō (digging sticks), ihe (spears), iʻe kuku (kapa beaters), ʻauamo (carrying poles) and more.
He lei ko ka uka, he lei ko ke kai - The uplands have a lei, the sea has a lei.