Koki‘o ‘ula‘ula (Hibiscus kokio ssp. kokio)

Hawaiian name: Koki‘o ‘ula‘ula
Botanical name: Hibiscus kokio subsp. kokio
Family: Malvaceae (Mallow Family)
Status: Endemic, rare
Where found: Maui, Moloka‘i, Hawai‘i, O‘ahu & Kaua‘i
Water/Light: Moist, with full to partial sunlight
Elevation range: 150 to 2,000 feet
Height: Up to 30 feet, with an 8 to 12 foot spread

Photo: MNBG

Notes: This species of Hibiscus features narrow-petaled red flowers which are constantly in bloom. In old Hawai‘i, the wood was used to make a fine charcoal. Native Hibiscus (both red and white) were grown near the homes of early Hawaiians for their flowers. These flowers were fashioned into striking temporary lei, which only lasted a day. Medicinally, koki‘o ‘ula‘ula was mixed with other plants and consumed for blood purification, and the leaves were chewed and swallowed as a laxative. Koki‘o ‘ula‘ula makes a great hedge or screening plant within a Hawaiian landscape. This species is somewhat drought tolerant, but should be protected from strong winds.

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