The Kiawe tree so common throughout the Hawaiian islands are actually Prosopis pallida, a species of mesquite tree native to South America. It is said that the first Kiawe planted in Hawaii was in 1828.
The tree has a tap root, which makes it nearly indestructible. That and the fact that kiawe can live for nearly 1,000 years means that the tree has spread rapidly and widely in Hawaii.
They offer some shade and good firewood, but are generally seen as a nuisance, mainly because their limbs are covered with longish spikes that easily poke through clothing and slippers.
Some stories say that kiawe were planted by missionaries as a tactic to get Hawaiians to wear more clothing, covering their nakedness. Others say that kiawe came to the islands as seeds stuck to livestock that then took root.
This picture with the West Maui Mountains in the background puts the Kiawe in a more artistic light.