This small shrub makes delicious tea
Description: Small shrubs, usually 3 to 4 feet tall, with dark green serrated leaves and bright yellow flowers. The flowers are unique compared with other native species within the same genus. They are large -- usually 3 to 4 inches in diameter; most other species in the genus (with the exception of B. cosmoides and B. valida) have smaller flowers. They have a pleasant fragrance similar to carnations; I'm unaware of any other native Bidens that possess that fragrance.
HUI KU MAOLI OLA
Ko'oko'olau has a short life of up to two years, but new plants sprout from its fallen seeds.
This endemic plant is found only on the Mokuleia side of the Waianae Mountains on Oahu, usually on rocky cliffs either exposed to the sun or as an under-story plant.
Cultural uses: Like other ko'oko'olau, this species can also be used to make tea. Pick the fresh leaves or flowers, wash them off and boil in water. No need to dry the leaves first; fresh leaves are healthier and taste better. Pick enough leaves and flowers to cover the surface of the water in whatever size pot you are using, boil them up and enjoy! You can even make iced tea; it tastes great.
Landscape use and care: This plant is usually short-lived, one to two years, but will generally sprout new plants from fallen seeds. Because of its profuse bloom, it should be displayed in an area where it is easily visible, perhaps with a dark background such as a rock wall or ti leaf hedge.
Few pests bother it, but other members of the genus are somewhat affected by mites and spittle bugs. These should be treated either by spraying with water (soapy water is OK) or with an organic pesticide. If you're using this plant to make tea, don't use harsh chemicals, especially systemic pesticides, to treat for bugs. Daily watering is fine but not required, and full sun or partial shade is best.
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