Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: What Kinds of Lei Can Be Sent to Mainland?

October 9, 2017, 2:18 PM HST
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Lei, file photo by Wendy Osher.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column. Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at (808) 270-7855, [email protected]  or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Dear Mayor Arakawa:

Q: My aunt in California asked that I bring her a fragrant lei for her birthday celebration later this month, but I’m not sure which kinds of lei are allowed.

How can I find out?

I don’t want to buy her a special lei only to have it confiscated at the ag inspection station.


A: White or yellow ginger, tuberose, maile or orchid lei are fine as long as they pass inspection, but any lei containing fresh botanical fruits, such as berries or hala (pandanus) fruit or citrus leaves, including pieces of mock orange leaves in between kukui nuts or other lei, are not allowed.


Other lei prohibited for Mainland travel include Maunaloa, kauna‘oa (Dodder), sea grape, blue jade plant and kikania (round, bright, red-colored seeds).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits certain plant items from entering the U.S. mainland to prevent the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid, a gnat-sized insect capable of transmitting one of the world’s most serious citrus diseases—citrus greening disease.

This harmful pest feeds on all citrus and other fruit and ornamental plants.


USDA inspectors will examine your leis at the airport for prohibited items and any signs of plant infestation or infection.

For more information online, visit and type “lei” into the search bar.

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