Coprosma rhynchocarpa

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Coprosma

Species

rhynchocarpa

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hupilo
  • Pilo

Hawaiian Names

  • Hupilo
  • Pilo

Common Names

  • Woodland mirrorplant

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Dwarf, Less than 15
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30
  • Tree, Medium, 30 to 50

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent

Additional Landscape Use Information

Pilo is a good small understory tree for ʻōhiʻa and koa. Plants are ready for outplanting when about six months old and about one-foot high. After five years, they should be from 6 1/2 to 10 feet tall and begin to flower and fruit.

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Cream
  • Greenish-White
  • White

Blooming Period

  • Fall
  • Winter

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

These small trees are dioecious, that is separate male and female trees. The females will produce bright yellowish orange or yellowish red fruits. The fruit is oval with pointed ends that look like small paint brushes.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium
  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves are described as being velvety.

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

leaf Growth Requirements

Water Requirements

  • Moist

Light Conditions

  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

This pilo grows naturally as small understory trees.

Tolerances

  • Drought

Soils

  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 2000 to 2999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 3000 to 3999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 4000 to 4999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 4000 to 4999, Greater than 100 (Wet)

Additional Habitat Information

This pilo (Coprosma rhynchocarpa) occurs mainly on Hawaiʻi Island from about 1600 to over 7400 feet in mesic and wet forests and sometimes in alpine woodlands. Also recorded on East 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. 

Etymology

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 rhynchocarpa is derived from the Greek rhyncho, beak, and the Latin carpus, fruit, in reference to the beak-like projection on the fruits of this species.

Background Information

Pilo of many species provide fruit for native birds, such as ʻōmaʻo or Hawaiian thrush (Myadestes obscurus) and so favored in some areas that they have been observed guarding and chasing off other birds from fruit-laden trees. [3]

Early Hawaiian Use

Berries of pilo were used as a laxative. [2]

Modern Use

As in early Hawaiian use, the berries are occasionally used as a laxative. [2]

Additional References

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coprosma [accessed 8/2/08]

[2] http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb/index.asp [accessed 2/12/10]

[3] "Hawai'i's Plants and Animals--Biological Sketches of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park" by Charles P. Stone & Linda W. Pratt, page 183.

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