Bidens cosmoides

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Kokolau
  • Koʻokoʻolau
  • Koʻolau
  • Kōʻokoʻolau
  • Poʻolā nui

Hawaiian Names

  • Kokolau
  • Kookoolau
  • Koolau
  • Poola nui

Common Names

  • 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.

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

At Risk

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.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Specimen Plant

Source of Fragrance

  • No Fragrance

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • Light Orange
  • Yellow

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

In cultivation, this species blooms nearly year round, with or without brief rest periods.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Spider mites and white flies.

leaf Growth Requirements

Pruning Information

This species can be pruned to maintain a desired size. The pruned areas will form abundant new growth.

Water Requirements

  • Moist
  • Wet

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun


  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Kauaʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)


  • Terrestrial

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.

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 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).

Hawaiian Names:

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]

Background Information

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. [1]

Bidens cosmoides can be artificially crossed with many other Hawaiian species, but no natural hybrids have been found. [1]

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. [3]

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." [5]

Poʻolā nui flowers were used to make beautiful lei. [4]


Modern Use

All species of koʻokoʻolau can be brewed as a tonic and each are said to a specific or distinct flavor.

Additional References

[1] Lyonia, Vol.2, No. 3 by Fred R. Ganders & Kenneth M. Nagata, pages 23-30.

[2] [Accessed 12/03/10]

[3] IUCN Red List [Accessed 12/03/10]

[4] "Nā Lei Makamae--The Treasured Lei" by Marie A. McDonald & Paul R. Weissich, page 136.

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



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