Ground cover can supply lei blossoms
Description: A herbaceous plant that becomes woody toward the base; it can either crawl along the ground or grow up a fence or trellis. One leaf is composed of three oval leaflets about 3 inches in length, attached to long stems. The plant has bright yellow, pea-type flowers, about an inch wide and arranged in clusters of one to six. Once pollinated, pods develop with two to 10 small, reddish-brown seeds that are about a quarter-inch long.
HUI KU MAOLI OLA
Nanea is available at the Home Depot for about $5.
This indigenous plant is found throughout the tropics. In Hawaii it is found on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Molokai and the Big Island. Its natural habitat is sandy coasts, where it often crawls through other natives; sometimes it occurs on sea cliffs and dry slopes.
Landscape use and care: If you need a fast-growing ground cover, nanea's for you! But be careful what you wish for, because it really does grow quickly. Plant one every 2 feet to get a nice, full cover. It even does great on slopes to control erosion, and the flowers add great color when in bloom, which is pretty much continuously. Watering every other day is OK, but you should reduce the watering schedule once the plant is established -- it will be hardier and tougher. Nanea prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Watch out for spider mites that will discolor and eventually defoliate the plant. They should be treated with a pesticide specifically for mites.
Cultural uses: The flowers of nanea are beautiful enough and seem strong enough for use in leis, as well as the seeds.
Other info: This plant goes by several Hawaiian names depending on what island or region it comes from. Other names include nenea, mohihihi, puhili, puhilihili, pulihilihi, wahine 'oma'o and my favorites, lemuomakili and 'okolemakili, which means "cracked buttocks."
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