Antidesma pulvinatum

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Antidesma

Species

pulvinatum

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hame
  • Hamehame
  • Haʻā
  • Haʻāmaile
  • Mehame
  • Mehamehame

Hawaiian Names

  • Haa
  • Haamaile
  • Hame
  • Hamehame
  • Mehame
  • Mehamehame

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Dwarf, Less than 15
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30
  • Tree, Medium, 30 to 50

Mature Size, Width

15 to 20 or more feet wide.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

Hame is an attractive tree or shrub and fairly easy to care for. Daily watering is fine in well drained soil but reduce once plant is established. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]

Currently hame has been used as an accent or a specimen plant, but perhaps could be used to provide screening.

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Cream
  • White

Blooming Period

  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

The flowers are small and insignificant. Hame are dioecious, that is, they produce male and female flowers on separate plants. The blooming period above is based on observations of cultivated plants. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

The berries are reddish, dark purple, or blackish, and are much smaller, 1/4 inch (6 mm), than Antidesma platyphyllum. [2]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium
  • Coarse

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green
  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Leaves of this hame (A. pulvinatum) can be green and bronze to shades of reds.

The two hame species (A. platyphyllum & A. pulvinatum) can be distinguished by looking at the leaf petioles--that's the portion that connects the leaf with the twig. In A. platyphyllum the petioles are very short and curved to nearly "C-shaped;" in A. pulvinatum they are straight and long.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Young trees are more susceptible to damage from either mealybugs or aphids, but these problems can easily be remedied by pruning off affected leaves. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]

If not controlled, Chinese rose beetles will chew holes and give the leaves an unsightly lacey appearance. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

Fertilize trees every six months with 8-8-8 NPK fertilizer or a foliar feed monthly.

Water Requirements

  • Dry
  • Moist

Additional Water Information

This hame (A. pulvinatum) naturally is found in drier areas than A. platyphyllum, and is fairly drought tolerant.

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Though hame can grow in full sun, the trees seem to do best in partial sun.

Soils

  • Clay
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • Less than 150, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 3000 to 3999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 4000 to 4999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 4000 to 4999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)

Habitat

  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

This hame is occasionally found from 385 to about 1970 feet in dry to mesic forest and is endemic to Oʻahu (Waiʻanae Mountains and the southeastern end of the Koʻolau Mountains), East Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi (Maunalei Valley), Maui (West Maui and East Maui), and Hawaiʻi. [Joel Lau, Botanist]

This hame is rare in the Koʻolau Mountains, Oʻahu. [Joel Lau, Botanist] Recently found on Lānaʻi. On Hawaiʻi Island, it can be found as low as 100 or less to as high as 4000 feet.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Hame or Mehame is a member of the Phyllanthus family or Phyllanthaceae along another native species of hame (A. platyphyllum) and two other native endemics such as pāmakani māhū (Phyllanthus distichus) and the extremely rare and endangered mēhamehame (Flueggea neowawraea), one of the largest native forest trees.

A close relative generally known by its Filipino name bignay or current tree (Antidesma bunius) has fruits that taste similar to cranberries when unripe, but a tart sweet flavor when ripe. Bignay is found in Southeast Asia, the Philippines to northern Australia and are locally eaten fresh, prepared with fish, and made into jams, jellies, syrup, and even wine. [6]

Etymology

The generic name Antidesma is derived from the Greek anti, against, and desma, literally headband, but used by J. Burman, friend and correspondent of Carl Linnaeus, Swedish botanist, to mean poison; the name was intended to refer to the use of a plant in the genus against snakebite.

The specific epithet pulvinatum is from the Latin pulvinatus, cushion-like or -shaped. [5]

Hawaiian Name:

Mehamehame. A similar spelling Mēhamehame, with kahakō over the first "e," is the name of its very rare cousin Flueggea neowawraea.

Background Information

Intermediate plants of Antidesma platyphyllum and A. pulvinatum, at least in South Kona, Hawaiʻi Island, were described by botanist Joseph Rock as Antidesma x kapuae, a punative hybrid. Hawaiʻi Botanist Joel Lau suggest that "this hybrid combination is potentially found on Oʻahu (Waiʻanae Mountains and the southeastern Koʻolau Mountains), East Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Maui (West Maui and East Maui), and Hawaiʻi."

Fossils of hame (Antidesma pulvinatum) are present in the solidified volcanic ash originating from the complex of volcanic vents in the land sections of Moanalua and Hālawa, Oʻahu. Included among these vents are the craters of Āliapaʻakai, Āliamanu, and Makalapa. [Joel Lau, Botanist]

Early Hawaiian Use

The wood is very hard, strong and durable. And being one of the heaviest native woods, it sinks in water.

Early Hawaiians, therefore, used for tools such as kapa tools, hut beams, javelins or spears, digging sticks (ʻōʻō), and scraping boards for olonā. [8]

Dye:

The red fruit juice mixed with kamani oil (Calophyllum inophyllum) was used to make a bright red dye for kapa cloth, particularly for the malo (loincloth). [1,4,8]

Clothing:

Hawaiians used the red-brown wood for kapa (tapa) beaters that were used to beat out olonā (Touchardia latifolia) fiber. [1,4]

Medicinal:

The leaves were chewed and swallowed for vomiting spells. The bark, mixed with other plants, was used as a wash for ulcers and scrofulous sores. [3]

Modern Use

The book Common Forest Trees of Hawaii notes that hame* "wood is reddish brown, fine-textured, and hard. It takes a fine polish and is suitable for cabinetwork but is not commonly found in commercial quantities. It is reported that the wood is resistent to marine borers or shipworms." [4,7]

* Although the information is in direct reference to Antidesma  playtphyllum, it is quite possible that it would apply to A. pulvinatum as well since the names and uses are otherwise similar.

Additional References

[1] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 65.
[2] "The Indigenous Trees of the Hawaiian Islands" by Joseph F. Rock, page 253.

[3] "Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value" by D.M. Kaaiakamanu & J.K. Akina, page 39.

[4] "Common Forest Trees of Hawaii" by Elbert L. Little & Roger G. Skolmen, page 168.

[5] "The Names of Plants" by David Gledhill, page 320.

[6] http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/bignay_ars.html [Accessed 2/14/11]

[7] "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, page 500.

[8] "Auwahi: Ethnobotany of a Hawaiian Dryland Forest" by A.C. Medeiros, C.F. Davenport & C.G. Chimera, page 15.

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