Coprosma ernodeoides

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hupilo
  • Kūkaenēnē
  • Leponēnē
  • Nēnē
  • Pilo
  • Pūnēnē
  • ʻAiakanēnē

Hawaiian Names

  • Aiakanene
  • Hupilo
  • Kukaenene
  • Leponene
  • Nene
  • Pilo
  • Punene

Common Names

  • Black-fruited coprosma


  • Nenea ernodeoides

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Sprawling Shrub
  • Shrub

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Dwarf, Less than 2
  • Shrub, Small, 2 to 6

Mature Size, Width

Shrubs spread 10 to 15 feet. [5]

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Ground Cover

Additional Landscape Use Information

Though these plants are naturally found at high elevations (4,000-8,500 ft.), they do well at lower elevations (100 ft.) in the landscape. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]

This example underscores the wide range of adaptations among our native Hawaiian plants.

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Cream
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

Kūkaenēnē have male and female whitish-cream flowers on separate plants.

Blooming Period

  • Spring
  • Summer

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Very dark purple, almost black, fruit follow the late spring to early summer blooming period. Kūkaenēnē is the only dark purple fruited species of Coprosma in the Hawaiian Islands, earning it the common name of Black-fruited coprosma.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine

Additional Plant Texture Information

Kūkaenēnē leaves are shiny, narrow and under an inch long.

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Kūkaenēnē is prone to ants, scale, mealy bugs, thrips and aphids.

leaf Growth Requirements


Fertilize the plants with 8-8-8 every 4 to 6 months.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

They can tolerate from dry to wet conditions.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Kūkaenēnē can tolerate some shade as an understory groundcover. [3]


  • Waterlogged Soil
  • Drought
  • Wind


  • Cinder

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 4000 to 4999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 4000 to 4999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 4000 to 4999, Greater than 100 (Wet)

Additional Habitat Information

Kūkaenēnē occurs primarily in open sites, often on lava and cinder fields in subalpine woodlands on East Maui and Hawaiʻi Island from 4000 to about 8500 feet.

One collection was apparently made at the bog on Mount ʻEke, West Maui.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

The thirteen Hawaiian endemic species of Coprosma belong to Rubiaceae or Coffee family and all appear to be common to fairly common in their habitat. Kūkaenēnē is the only black fruited species of Coprosma in the Hawaiian Islands.


The generic name is from the Greek kopros, dung, and osme, smell referring to the dung-like or rotten cabbage smell (methanethiol) given off when the leaves of some species are crushed. [1]

The specific epithet ernodeoides means resembling Ernodea, a genus of plants in the same family (Rubiaceae) as Coprosma ernodeoides.

Hawaiian Names:

The genus name Coprosma means "smelling like dung." By coincidence, the Hawaiian name kūkaenēnē literally means "nēnē dung." This refers not to the smell but to the dung-like appearance of the dark fruits, which do in fact resemble nēnē droppings (kūkae). Nevertheless, nēnē (Branta sandvicensis), or Hawaiian goose, do eat the fruits as part of their natural diet. So then, one might say that when kūkaenēnē is eaten by nēnē and they deposit their kūkae, kūkaenēnē is spread throughout the nēnē habitat!

Intrestingly, another name for Coprosma ernodeoides is ʻaiakanēnē, literally meaning "food of the nēnē."

Early Hawaiian Use


Early Hawaiians made a yellow dye from the inner bark and the fruits were used to make a dark purple or black dye. [2]


The leaves flowers and black fruits were also strung on lei. [4,6]

Additional References

[1] [accessed August 2, 2008]
[2] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 65.
[3] "Hawaiʻi the Fires of Life--Rebirth in Volcano Land" by Garrett A. Smathers and Dieter Mueller-Dombois, page 96.

[4] "Nā Lei Makamae--The Treasured Lei" by Marie A. McDonald & Paul R. Weissich, pages 8, 64.

[5] Haleakalā National Park [Accessed on 7/16/13]

[6] "Ethnobotany of Hawaii" by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 147.



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