Hawaiian Names with Diacritics
- Poʻolā nui
- Poola nui
- Cosmosflower beggarticks
- Bidens xdimidiata
- Campylotheca cosmoides
- Coreopsis cosmoides
Did You Know ?
Of the nineteen native Hawaiian species of Bidens, only this koʻokoʻolau was given the distinctive name Poʻolā nui. The large distinctive flowers were used in lei making.
Endangered Species Status
Plant Form / Growth Habit
- Non-Woody, Spreading
- Partially Woody / Shrub-like
Mature Size, Height (in feet)
- Herbaceous, Medium, 1-3
- Herbaceous, Tall, Greater than 3
Mature Size, Width
Branches spread. Some rest in the branches of other plants.
Long lived (Greater than 5 years)
- Specimen Plant
Source of Fragrance
- No Fragrance
Plant Produces Flowers
- Light Orange
- Year Round
Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information
In cultivation, this species blooms nearly year round, with or without brief rest periods.
- Dark Green
- Medium Green
Additional Pest & Disease Information
Spider mites and white flies.
This species can be pruned to maintain a desired size. The pruned areas will form abundant new growth.
Soil must be well drained
- Full sun
- Partial sun
Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)
- 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
Additional Habitat Information
Grows in diverse forests, but not where rainfall is low. Formerly common and found naturally as low as about 1150 feet, but seen in diverse mesic forests form 2460 to about 3940 feet.
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 generic 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 cosmoides literally means cosmos-like or resembling cosmos, referring to its likeness to the cosmos flowers in the same family (Asteraceae).
This species is so recognizably distinct and larger than other native Bidens sp., the early Hawaiians gave it the unique name poʻolā nui, which means "grand poʻolā," in reference to similar the leaves and habit to the unrelated poʻolā (Claoxylon sandwicense), a member of the Euphorbia family (Euphorbaceae). [2,4]
One of the most beautiful and largest of the Hawaiian Bidens or koʻokoʻolau is this Kauai endemic. Flowers are perfectly designed to be pollinated by birds. 
Bidens cosmoides can be artificially crossed with many other Hawaiian species, but no natural hybrids have been found. 
Poʻolā nui has had a 50% decrease in numbers over the last three generations. The major threats have been lack of pollinators, invasive alien plants, goats, pigs, and fire. 
Early Hawaiian 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." 
Poʻolā nui flowers were used to make beautiful lei. 
All species of koʻokoʻolau can be brewed as a tonic and each are said to a specific or distinct flavor.
 Lyonia, Vol.2, No. 3 by Fred R. Ganders & Kenneth M. Nagata, pages 23-30.
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmosflower_Beggarticks [Accessed 12/03/10]
 IUCN Red List http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/44116/0 [Accessed 12/03/10]
 "Nā Lei Makamae--The Treasured Lei" by Marie A. McDonald & Paul R. Weissich, page 136.
 "Lāʻau Hawaiʻi: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants" by Isabella Aiona Abbott, page 102.
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