Canavalia pubescens

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Puakauhi
  • ʻĀwikiwiki

Hawaiian Names

  • Awikiwiki
  • Puakauhi

Common Names

  • Lavafield jackbean


  • Canavalia forbesii
  • Canavalia galeata var. pubescens
  • Canavalia haleakalaensis
  • Canavalia lanaiensis
  • Canavalia lanaiensis var. munroi
  • Canavalia munroi
  • Canavalia sericea var. lanaiensis

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

At Risk

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Vine/Liana

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Dwarf, Less than 2

Life Span

Short lived (Less than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Ground Cover
  • Trellis or Fence Climber

Additional Landscape Use Information

The quick growing and vining ʻāwikiwiki (Canavalia spp.) soon provide a thick barrier on a fence. Stems will get woody, especially at the base, upon maturity.

Seeds can be planted directly in the soil at the base of a trellis or fence post. Portection from rodents, slugs, and snails may be needed.

While apparently not necessary for growing ʻāwikiwiki, innoculated plants tend to be the most vigorous. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

They can also be grown as a groundcover over cinder and rocks.

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • Light Purple
  • Pink
  • Purple
  • Red
  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

Beautiful dark red to pink or purple flowers with a white spot and streaks toward base. Botanists Otto and Isa Degener (1959) report white to pink flowers on Lānaʻi.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

After flowering, ʻāwikiwiki form large flat pods containing tan to dark reddish brown seeds. Pods will turn dark, dry and woody and seeds will often loosen and rattle inside when ripe.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves wider than long and leathery. The leaves range from 1 to 3 inches and no longer than 4 inches.

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Black stink bugs, green stink bugs, spider mites, aphids.

leaf Growth Requirements


ʻĀwikiwiki are nitrogen-fixing vines, but can be fertilized every 6 months or foliar feed monthly for more flowers.

Pruning Information

May get unruly or unwanted in areas in a short time and require pruning. The name ʻāwikiwiki comes from wikiwiki meaning fast or speedy and it is certainly just that in its growth rate!

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Water weekly when weather is hot and dry.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun


  • Drought
  • Wind


  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Niʻihau
  • Kauaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Additional Habitat Information

An uncommon plant found in open dry sites (lava fields, dry forests).

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Canavalia are members of the very large Pea or Legume family (Fabaceae). There are six endemic species. The introduced maunaloa (Canavalia cathartica) is very closely related to ʻāwikiwiki and naturalized in some areas.


The generic name Canavalia comes from the Indian kanavali, a common name for Canavalia maritima.

The specific epithet pubescens, downy, is inrefernce to the short soft hairs that more or less cover the plant.

Hawaiian Names:

The name ʻāwikiwiki comes from wikiwiki meaning fast or speedy, referring to its rapid growth rate.

Early Hawaiian Use

Food (Fishing):

Early Hawaiians made roughly constructed fish nets and traps from stems and scoop nets probably made from ʻāwikiwiki vines for small rock paoʻo (blennies) and ʻopae (freshwater shrimps). [1,2]


Flowers used for lei making.


Another ʻāwikiwiki (Canavalia galeata) was specifically mentioned for medicinal purposes. An infusion of leaves, shoots and bark mixed with other plants as a bath for itch, ringworm and skin disorders. [3,4]

Modern Use

The flowers are strung on lei as they have been since the early days.

Additional References

[1] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 77.

[2] "Arts and Crafts of Hawaii" by Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter H. Buck), page 312.

[3] "Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value, by D.M. Kaaiakamanu & J.K. Akina, page 21.

[4] "Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database" [Accessed 2/5/13]

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