In The Garden
Contrasts lend to tree’s beauty
Description: These small trees can grow from 6 to 25 feet tall. Their foliage is a beautiful color, glossy maroon when young and glossy dark green when older. Leaves are elliptical, with clean margins and a sharp apex, arranged tightly, alternating along each branch. Flowers develop on panicles (pyramid-shaped flower clusters) and turn into small, reddish-purple grapelike fruit. The contrast between young leaves, mature leaves and fruit makes this plant attractive.
HUI KU MAOLI OLA
Foliage of the hame varies from glossy maroon when the leaves are young to dark green when older, making for interesting contrast.
This species of Antidesma is not too common, but can occasionally be seen in the dry to mesic forests of Oahu, Molokai, Maui and Hawaii. The one pictured above is from the Waianae mountains on Oahu.
Cultural use: The hardwood is used to make anvils for beating kapa or, more commonly, for preparing olona (Touchardia lattifolia) to make cordage. The dark berries are also used to make a dye for kapa.
Landscape use and care: This tree would make an excellent addition to any garden. Its attractiveness extends well beyond the native-plant enthusiasts' eyes and it is fairly easy to take care of. Daily watering is OK in well-drained soil, but reduce to watering only when needed once the plant is established. This plant also thrives in full sun to somewhat filtered sunlight. Young trees are more susceptible to damage from either mealybugs or aphids, but these pests can easily be removed by pruning off affected leaves.
Other info: This is one of two species of Antidesma native to Hawaii. Both are called hame, but other names include ha'a (with a kahako above the second a), ha'amaile (same kahako placing), hamehame, mehame and mehamehame (not to be confused with another plant also called mehamehame, Fluggea neowawraea, which is an endangered species and known for its extremely dense hardwood, but occurs in the same family as hame -- Euphorbiacea).
Rick Barboza co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery, with Matt Schirman. Contact him at 295-7777 or e-mail Rick.CK.Barboza@gmail.com