Colorful ground cover found on isle beaches
Beach morning glory
Description: A prostrate vine that can reach lengths of up to 30 feet. They have thick, smooth, rounded leaves, but their most attractive feature is their large purple/pink, morning glory-type flowers with dark purple centers. In rare circumstances their petals can be white with purple centers.
Distribution: This indigenous plant is found throughout the tropics. In Hawaii it is found on sandy beaches of all the main islands and most of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
HUI KU MAOLI OLA
Pohuehue was mashed and used to help heal wounds.
The roots and leaves of pohuehue are pounded into a poultice for wounds, sores and broken bones. Small amounts of the roots and leaves are also used as medicine and were cooked in times of famine. Consuming too much, however, is dangerous. The long strands of pohuehue can also be used as leis and were often woven together, worn in similar fashion as maile, except the pohuehue can look quite striking when in bloom. Just watch out for the milky sap because it can be quite sticky.
Landscape uses and care: Pohuehue is an excellent ground cover for dry, sunny areas and requires little watering once established. Its large purple flowers add color to any garden.
This plant grows quickly given daily watering but will fill in thicker with less watering and full sun. If given too much water, the leaves can turn yellowish and develop small black spots. In that case, let the soil dry out, and the new leaves should be green. These plants are available at Home Depot for only $3.97.
Tasty tidbit: Pohuehue was slapped on the surface of the ocean to encourage surf when waves were small. Trust me, I've done it twice already and it really works!
Don't get this plant mixed up with another plant called "pohue," which is not native and was recently introduced from the South Pacific. Pohue is quickly taking over many of our sandy beaches. Although it has a similar name, it is not related at all. Non-native pohue has extremely fuzzy trifoliate leaves made up of three large, rounded leaflets; large brown seed pods with marbled dark brown and black seeds; and a purple-maroon pea flower similar in shape and color to our native awikiwiki (Canavalia spp.), to which it is related. If you see this plant on the beach, do our native plants a favor and pull it out.
co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery, with Matt Schirman. Contact him at 259-6580 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org