Abutilon sandwicense

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Abutilon

Species

sandwicense

Common Names

  • Green-flowered abutilon
  • Greenflower Indian mallow

Synonyms

  • Abortopetalum sandwicense
  • Abortopetalum sandwicense var. welchii
  • Abutilon sandwicense var. welchii

Names with Unknown Sources

  • Koʻolua maʻomaʻo
  • Koʻolua ʻōmaʻo

Did You Know…?

Even though it is commonly known as the green-flowered abutilon with beautiful apple green petals, this attractive abutilon also comes in a variety of other flower colors such as light yellow, dark yellow, reddish orange, and yellow with maroon, reddish or orangish highlights.

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

Federally Listed

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Sprawling Shrub

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Small, 2 to 6
  • Shrub, Medium, 6 to 10
  • Shrub, Tall, Greater than 10

Mature Size, Width

This is a large shrub spreading to 10 or more feet wide.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Hedges
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

As with most abutilons, green-flowered abutilon are easy to grow when given somewhat drier and sunny conditions.

Shrubs of this species can grow quite large, to over 10 feet.

The flowers are large and spectacular and draw attention when noticed!

Source of Fragrance

  • No Fragrance

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Showy

Flower Colors

  • Brownish
  • Green
  • Greenish-White
  • Light Orange
  • Red
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

Because of the flower size, largest of the native abutilons, the solitary flowers can be seen from several feet away if not obscured by the large leaves.

Varous forms are known to have flower colors of apple green, light yellow, dark yellow, reddish orange, and yellow with maroon (almost brown), reddish or orangish highlights or petal tips.

Blooming Period

  • Spring
  • Winter

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

In the wild, after the blooming period from winter to spring, the flowers dry by summer and fruit capsules develop in six weeks. [1]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium
  • Coarse

Leaf Colors

  • Gray / Silverish
  • Light Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

The Green-flowered abutilon is subject to Chinese rose beetle attacks which chew unsightly holes in the leaves.

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

Do not over fertilize! Otherwise this will produce large floppy leaves and plants with fewer flowers. It will also attract leaf-eating insects, such as Chinese rose bettles. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Pruning Information

Abutilon sandwicense does not grow quickly. Shrubs take pruning well as long as it is not done heavily each time. It is best to prune minimal so as not to stress the shrub. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Water Requirements

  • Moist

Additional Water Information

This abutilon does well in moist to dry conditions but best kept on the drier side.

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Tolerances

  • Drought

Soils

  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Habitat

  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

An Oʻahu endemic found on steep slopes in dry forest from about 985 to 1970 feet in the Waiʻanae Mountians between Makaleha Valley and Puʻukaua. Extinct on Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi.

On Oʻahu, the taxon is known from three disjunct areas. Two of these areas are not far from the coast, namely the plains of Kalaeloa at the southwestern end of the island, and in the land section of Keawaʻula near the northwestern tip of the island. The third area is inland, on the leeward side of the Waiʻanae Mountains in the valleys of Mākaha and Waiʻanae Kai. [Joel Lau, Botanist]

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

The Green-flowered abutilon are relatives of hibiscuses belonging to the Mallow family (Malvaceae). There are some 150 species worldwide in the genus Abutilon.

The Hawaiian Islands have four native species: one questionably indigenous species (Abutilon incanum) and three endemic endangered species (A. eremitopetalum, A. menziesii, A. sandwicense). The feature species (A. sandwicense) is the largest growing and flowering of the native abutilons.

Etymology

The generic name Abutilon is derived from the Arabic awbūtīlūn (’abū ṭīlūn), for malvaceous (mallow-like) plants. [2,3]

The specific epithet sandwicensis refers to the "Sandwich Islands," as the Hawaiian Islands were once called, and named by James Cook on one of his voyages in the 1770s. James Cook named the islands after John Montagu (The fourth Earl of Sandwich) for supporting Cook's voyages.

Hawaiian Names:

The Hawaiian names Koʻolua maʻomaʻo and Koʻolua ʻōmaʻo (ʻōmaʻo, green) may a indicate a "green flowered abutilton," but there is no reason to believe that these are valid Hawaiian names for this species that some use. The true Hawaiian name is still yet unknown.

Background Information

Green-flowered abutilon (A. sandwicense) is by far the largest growing and flowering of the native abutilons.

Artificial (man-made) crosses between the two endemics Abutlion menziesii x A. sandwicense have been produced. However, natural hybrids of this combination could potentially be found on the western side of Oʻahu in or near the Waiʻanae Mountains. Abutilon sandwicensis is endemic to the Waiʻanae Mountains, and A. menziesii has been recorded from two areas in the lowlands adjacent to the Waiʻanae Mountains (Kapolei area and Lualualei). [Joel Lau, Botanist]

Early Hawaiian Use

No known Hawaiian name or use is yet known for this unique and rare endemic abutilon.

Modern Use

Seldom seen in landscapes. How unfortunate since these are truly spectacular shrubs!

It is hoped that will become as popular as it's smaller cousin the Koʻolua ʻula (Abuitlon menziesii).

Additional References

[1] "Recovery Plans for the Oahu Plants" by USFWS, page 40.

[2] http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Abutilon [Accessed on 8/17/11]

[3] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abutilon [Accessed on 8/17/11]

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