Hawaiian Names with Diacritics
- ʻAhakea lau nui
- Ahakea lau nui
- Bobea gaudichaudii
- Bobea platypes
- Burneya gaudichaudii
- Timonius gaudichaudii
Endangered Species Status
Plant Form / Growth Habit
Mature Size, Height (in feet)
- Shrub, Tall, Greater than 10
- Tree, Dwarf, Less than 15
- Tree, Small, 15 to 30
- Tree, Medium, 30 to 50
Long lived (Greater than 5 years)
Additional Landscape Use Information
Though ʻahakea is rather common in the wild, it is rarely seen in the landscape. It does well at least down to 300 feet in elevation. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]
Source of Fragrance
Additional Fragrance Information
ʻAhakea have a slight fragrant.
Plant Produces Flowers
Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information
Based on photos, ʻahakea blooms from June to September, but may do so prior to or beyond the months from June to September.
The roundish fruits are purple.
Additional Plant Texture Information
Leaves papery to slightly leathery.
- Light Green
- Medium Green
Additional Leaf Color Information
Additional Pest & Disease Information
Under cultivation, scale and red spider mites can be problamatic if not controlled. Mealybugs, though not appearing to a problem, have been observed around leaf buds and new leaves. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]
Foliar feed them monthly for healthier growth.
Additional Water Information
Water weekly and when dry.
Soil must be well drained
- Partial sun
Additional Lighting Information
ʻAhakea appreciate morning sun, but do best with some partial sun in the hotter afternoons. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]
Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)
- 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 150 to 1000, Greater than 100 (Wet)
- 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 1000 to 1999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
Additional Habitat Information
ʻAhakea is found from 820 to over 3600 feet in mesic valleys and mesic to wet forest on Kauaʻi (Nāpali coast southeastward to Hāʻupu Ridge), Oʻahu (Waiʻanae and Koʻolau mountains), east Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Maui (West and East), and from only 2 collections from the Kohala Mountains on Hawaiʻi Island.
This ʻahakea (Bobea elatior) is the most widespread of four species in the endemic genus Bobea. This small genus belongs to the Coffee family or Rubiaceae.
The generic name Bobea is named by Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré in 1830 for Jean-Baptiste Bobe-Moreau, physcian and pharmacist in the French Marine.
The specific epithet elatior is Latin for higher or best. 
The name ʻAhakea lau nui literally means "ʻahakea with big leaves."
Early Hawaiian Use
For canoe (waʻa) construction, the hard yellowish or reddish wood of ʻahakea was the most favorite wood for making gunwales strakes (moʻo), the forward end piece (lāʻau ihu), and the aft piece (lāʻau hope). [1,3,4,6] The moʻo were left unpainted with had a pleasing contrast with the black painted body of the waʻa itself. 
Canoe paddles were also made from ʻahakea wood. 
It was also the preferred to frame hale (house) doorways and door frames (lapauila) because the reddish or yellowish colored wood was a chiefly color. [2,6]
Poi boards (papa kuʻi poi) were made from ʻahakea because its close grained wood.  Bowls were also made from the hard wood. 
ʻAhakea, mixed with kukui nuts, was also used medicinally to help with abscesses, burst sores (ʻili pūhō); scar, perhaps tuberculosis; (ʻalaʻala); and itch, ulcer (meʻeau). The bark and leaves were boiled and used to bathe in. 
Another treatment for abscesses, was to use ‘ahakea bark and ground with root bark of puakala ku kula (Argemone glauca), bark of ʻōhia ‘ai (Syzygium malaccense), and Coffee senna or ‘auko‘i (Senna occidentalis), and then placed in a mai‘a (banana) and used as a poultice. 
 "Plants in Hawaiian Culture," by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 50.
 "Arts and Crafts of Hawaii," by Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter H. Buck), page 100.
 "Native Hawaiian Medicine--Volume II" by The Rerverend Kaluna M. Kaʻaiakamanu, page 43.
 "Resource Units in Hawaiian Culture" by Donald D. Kilolani Mitchell, page 130, 163.
 "Auwahi: Ethnobotany of a Hawaiian Dryland Forest" by A.C. Medeiros, C.F. Davenport & C.G. Chimera, page 18.
 "Lāʻau Hawaiʻi: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants" by Isabella Aiona Abbott, pages 70, 81.
 http://www.burwur.net/sinns/4eltMain.htm [Accessed 9/2/11]
 "Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database" http://data.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb [Accessed 1/24/12]
 "Ethnobotany of Hawaii" by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 129.
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