Native Hawaiian jewel nearly went extinct
Description: A large shrub or small tree up to 12 feet tall with light green to almost yellowish foliage. Each leaf is rough in appearance with somewhat ruffled lobes on the margins. A light-brown pubescence (soft down), heavier on younger leaves, covers the underside and top of the leaf. White flowers hang face down, with a purple stripe on the center of each petal, once pollinated, the flowers develop into shiny black berries.
HUI KU MAOLI OLA
Exotic popolo makes for an attractive flowering plant in the native garden.
This endemic plant was only known to exist in the mesic forests of Oahu and Kauai, but its natural population on Oahu is considered extinct. Luckily, seeds were harvested before the last plant died, so now a few plants are in cultivation and a handful have been planted back into the wild.
Cultural uses: There are no known cultural uses for this particular species of popolo, but there is another more commonly known popolo plant (Solanum americanum), which is indigenous and valued for medicinal purposes. I wouldn't use this plant in the same manner -- the translation of popolo'aiakeakua literally means "the popolo eaten by the god," which doesn't sound like a good thing to eat if you're a mere human.
Landscape uses and care: This is definitely a plant to have if you are into natives -- its look is prehistoric and exotic. Few pests bother this plant, and it requires little watering once established in the ground. Plant it in either full sun or partial shade and enjoy a true living Hawaiian jewel.
co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery, with Matt Schirman. Contact him at 295-7777 or e-mail Rick.firstname.lastname@example.org
co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery, with Matt Schirman. Contact him at 259-6580 or e-mail email@example.com