Hawaiian Names with Diacritics
- Menzies' astelia
- Astelia degeneri
- Astelia forbesii
- Astelia veratroides
- Funckia menziesiana
Endangered Species Status
Plant Form / Growth Habit
- Non-Woody, Clumping
Mature Size, Height (in feet)
- Herbaceous, Medium, 1-3
- Herbaceous, Tall, Greater than 3
Mature Size, Width
From 1 to 3 feet in width and height.
Long lived (Greater than 5 years)
- Specimen Plant
Additional Landscape Use Information
This attractive plant grows best under cool conditions (50-40°F) but can adapt to warmer temperatures. Fruits of paʻiniu (A. menziesiana) are small, attractive orange-yellow berries eaten by birds, which help to disperse the tiny seeds. 
Seed growth is best because seedlings adapt more easily to elevation changes. Individual plants are either male or female and both are needed for viable seed production.  Plants can be slow to moderate in growth but are well worth the patience. They can be grown in 5-gallon tubs. Use well-drained yet moisture retaining potting media such as orchid mix or hāpuʻu.
Paʻiniu does well as an ephiphyte "planted" directly onto hāpuʻu trunks.
Source of Fragrance
- No Fragrance
Plant Produces Flowers
Additional Flower Color Information
Flowers form long branching clustered spikes in an array of colors from yellow to purple to red. Male and female flowers are on separate plants. Only female plants bear fruit.
Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information
Bright orange or orange-yellow berries on female plants are very attractive. Fruit is produced on mature female plants in 2 to 3 years. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]
Birds are also attracted to the berries and eat them, which help to spread seeds. 
Additional Plant Texture Information
Paʻiniu grow as rosettes on tree branches and trunks as an epiphyte or terrestrial. The waxy leaves range from 8 inches to about four feet, and 1/2 to 3 inches wide. 
The leaves somewhat resemble the Bromeliads, commonly called "air plants" (Tillandsia spp.) in Hawaiʻi, but are not related to them.
- Gray / Silverish
- Light Green
- Medium Green
Additional Leaf Color Information
Leaves are silvery-green or green on top. Underneath the leaves can sometimes be white, golden or silver.
Additional Pest & Disease Information
Mealybugs, spider mites.
Fertilizer needs are light but often. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC] Foliar feed plants using fish emulsion every 3 months.
After fruiting, the spent flower stalks and leaves may be trimmed off for a cleaner appearance. But otherwise no pruning is required.
Additional Water Information
Keep moist. Water when getting dry and monitor plant for proper moisture.
Soil must be well drained
- Partial sun
Additional Lighting Information
Plants can be grown as low as 2,000 feet in full sun in a dry climate with regular watering. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]
2 to 3 feet apart. 
No tolerance to salt and grows poorly in windy conditions. Growth rate is slow to moderate. 
Special Growing Needs
Grow similar to epiphytic orchids or bromeliads. 
Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)
- 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 2000 to 2999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
- 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 3000 to 3999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
- 4000 to 4999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 4000 to 4999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
Additional Habitat Information
Common to fairly common on most of the main islands, but rare on Oʻahu, from 2000 to over 7300 ft.
Paʻiniu are one of the few ephiphytic native flowering plants, but also grows as a terrestrial or lithophyte (on rocks). But because they are eaten by pigs, they are more likely to be seen out of reach in trees. 
Formerly, members of the Lily family (Liliaceae), paʻiniu (Astelia spp.) have recently been placed in the family Asteliaceae.
Of the three species of Astelia endemic to Hawaiʻi, Astelia menziesiana is most widespread in the islands and sometimes seen in cultivation. The other two, Astelia argyrocoma and the rare and endangered A. waialealae are restricted to Kauaʻi.
The genus name Astelia is derived from the Greek, a, without, and stele, column or pillar, in reference to the habit of plants in this genus having little or no stem.
The species epithet menziesiana refers to Archibald Menzies (1754-1842) a Scottish surgeon and naturalist, and the first to taxonomically identify the species.
On Oʻahu, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi, paʻiniu, as well as ʻieʻie (Freycinetia arborea), provide important breeding sites for the beautiful endemic Kōʻele Mountain damselfly (Megalegrion koelense) or pinao ʻula, relatives of dragonflies or pinao. Adult pinao ʻula breed and deposit their eggs in the leaf bases of paʻiniu where water pockets collect. It is in these critical spaces that the nymphs or naiads will live to maturity. 
Early Hawaiian Use
Paʻiniu was rarely used for house thatch. 
Early Hawaiians used the silvery leaves in lei. [3,7]
Hats were braided from the shiny outer leaves, sometimes with other plant materials, as a sign that one had visited Kīlauea Crater. [8,10]
Paʻinui leaves are still incorporated in modern lei for neck, head, wrist, ankle, and for the horse. [9,11]
 "Trailside Plants of Hawaiʻi's National Parks" by Charles H. Lamoureux, page 19.
 "The Families of Flowering Plants: Asteliaceae Dum." by L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz http://delta-intkey.com/angio/www/asteliac.htm [accessed 12/17/08]
 "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, pages 77, 276.
 "Hawaii: A Natural History" by Sherwin Carlquist, page 97.
 "A Hiker's Guide to Trailside Plants in Hawaiʻi" by John B. Hall, page 179.
 "Hawaiian Damselfies--A Field Indentification Guide" by Dan Polhemus and Adam Asquith, pages 17, 63.
 "Nā Lei Makamae--The Treasured Lei" by Marie A. McDonald & Paul R. Weissich, pages 126-127.
 "Hawaiian Dictionary" by Mary Kawena Pukui & Samuel H. Elbert, page 303.
 "Growing Plants for Hawaiian Lei" by CTAHR (College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources), Universirty of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, pages 36-37.
 "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, page192.
 "Hawai'i's Plants and Animals--Biological Sketches of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park" by Charles P. Stone & Linda W. Pratt, page 201.
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