Ilima papa, more properly called ʻilima kū kahakai, is indigenous to Hawaii. Traditionally, ilima had many uses: medicinal, house construction and furnishing, and cooking. Ilima may have been the only plant cultivated by Hawaiians just for the flowers for lei.
Lei ʻilima pua (flower) were treasured by early Hawaiians and given specific names based on their flowers, as well as leaves. It can take as much as 1,000 blossoms to make one lei. It takes some effort, as well. The best time to harvest the flowers is before the sun rises.