Bidens asymmetrica

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Kokolau
  • Koʻokoʻolau
  • Koʻolau
  • Kōʻokoʻolau

Hawaiian Names

  • Kokolau
  • Kookoolau
  • Koolau

Common Names

  • Koʻolau Range beggarticks
  • Koʻolau koʻokoʻolau


  • Bidens gracilis
  • Bidens halawana
  • Campylotheca gracilis
  • Lipochaeta asymetrica

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Partially Woody / Shrub-like

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Herbaceous, Medium, 1-3
  • Herbaceous, Tall, Greater than 3

Mature Size, Width

About 2 to 3 feet.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container

Additional Landscape Use Information

Though not much is known about this koʻokoʻolau and few specimens are seen in cultivation at this time, this species is easy to grow, being a bit slower than some other species. They seem to do well in containers. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

The small flowers of this koʻokoʻolau are charming up close but not as showy as some other species.

Blooming Period

  • Spring
  • Summer

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Flowers have been observed in the spring and summer months in its natural habitat. Fruiting immdiately follows. The brownish-black achenes (seeds) are long, slightly curved or twisted with two short "prongs" on either side at the tip.

In cultivation, they bloom in summer to fall months. However, these plants may prove to be sporadic or even year round bloomers since there are substantiated photos of this species blooming in February. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Under cultivation, spider mites have been observed. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Growth Requirements


Monthly folar feedings kelp or fish emulsion have quite beneficial for this plant. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Water Requirements

  • Moist

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun


  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)


  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

This koʻokoʻolau is found from 985 to about 1970 feet scattered in mesic forest, often on slopes or ridges, leeward side of the southeastern Koʻolau Mountains, Oʻahu.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Koʻokoʻolau (Bidens spp.) are members of the Aster or Sunflower family (Asteraceae). There are nineteen endemic species of Bidens.

The natives are not invasive as are some of the alien species such as kī (Bidens pilosa) with its harpoon-like seeds (kukū) that seem attracted to long pants, socks and shoe laces or the White beggarticks (Bidens alba) that blanket huge areas with "cute-but-don't-grow-them-anyway" white and yellow flowers.


The name Bidens is derived from the Latin bi, two, and dens, teeth in reference to the pappus awns or collective bristles on the achenes (fruit, seeds).

The specific epithet asymmetrica is from the Greek asymmetricus, irregular or lacking symmetry.

Background Information

Despite its apparent narrow range, this species does not appear to be rare. Some populations showing intergradations between B. asymmetrica and B. sandvicensis subsp. sandvicensis occur from Nuʻuanu Pali to Tantalus.

All Bidens species can hybridize, which should be avoided. Individual species are often restricted to one habitat. 

Early Hawaiian Use

Leaves of all species of native koʻokoʻolau were used medicinally and for a tea tonic.

Modern Use

All species of koʻokoʻolau can be brewed as a tonic and each are said to have distinct flavors. Regarding Bidens spp., Isabella Abbott comments that "I find that the roughly half a dozen species common in Hawaiʻi offer two or three slightly different flavors, each a bit more subtle than commercial black tea." [1]

Additional References

[1] "Lāʻau Hawaiʻi: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants" by Isabella Aiona Abbott, page 102.



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