Maʻo (Gossypium tomentosum)

Maʻo (Gossypium tomentosum)
Hawaiian name: Ma‘o (Huluhulu)
Botanical name: Gossypium tomentosum
Family: Malvaceae (Mallow Family)
Status: Endemic, vulnerable
Where found: Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe, O‘ahu and Ni‘ihau
Water/Light: Dry, with full sun exposure
Elevation range: 0 to 400 feet
Height: 8 feet, with an up to 15-foot spread

Photo courtesy of Forest & Kim Starr

Notes: This silvery shrub is native to leeward coastal plains with rocky or clay soil but since those areas are widely developed, wild populations are rare. Of 39 known species of cotton (Gossypium), 38 have extrafloral nectaries. Not the endemic Hawaiian ma‘o! It does not attract ants, so has been used in cotton breeding. Ma‘o, ‘ōma‘oma‘o and ma‘o ma‘o all mean "green”. Flowers and egg white result in a green kapa dye. Dried ma‘o flowers were used together with other plants for medicine for stomach cramps.

*Photo courtesy of Forest & Kim Starr

From Work Done by Whit Germano to Catalog Native Hawaiian Plants