Delissea kauaiensis

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • ʻOha

Hawaiian Names

  • Oha

Common Names

  • Kauaʻi delissea
  • Kauaʻi leechleaf delissea
  • Leechleaf delissea


  • Delissea niihauensis subsp. kauaiensis
  • Delissea undulata subsp. kauaiensis

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

Federally Listed

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Shrub

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Small, 2 to 6
  • Shrub, Medium, 6 to 10
  • Shrub, Tall, Greater than 10

Mature Size, Width

Unlike its branching cousin, Delissea rhytidosperma, this plant is taller, narrow-leaved with long petioles,* rarely branches, and has a palm-tree like appearance.

* A leaf petiole is the stem-like part from the main stalk or branch to the beginning of the leaf. This is often an important feature in the identification of plants.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Indoor
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

This is one of the easiest and rewarding plants in the Lobelia family to grow and maintain in a landscape. Delissea can be grown as understory plants under trees protected by shrubs and ferns. Though not lowland plants, they do well at near sea level in pots or in the landscape provided they have good drainage. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Source of Fragrance

  • No Fragrance

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Greenish-White
  • Purple

Blooming Period

  • Summer
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • January
  • February
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

This delissea blooms from mid-June to February, followed by the fruiting period from October to February in its natural habitat. [1] The berries are purple and more or less round (globose). Cultivated plants more or less follow this flowering/fruiting cycle but seem to more sporadic bloomers. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green
  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Leaves often have a reddish or reddish purplish cast to them which is especially evident when grown in full sun.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Delissea are prone to attacks by slugs, snails, ants, aphids and rats. Spider mites and mealy bugs can distort leaves and make them look spotty and/or crinkly. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]

In the wild, goats graze on the plants and rats eat the stems.

leaf Growth Requirements


Does well as an indoor plant with filtered light or morning sun, sufficient moisture, light drench feedings* of fertilizer once or twice amonth, and good air movement. Though protected from most pests indoor, still keep an eye open for spider mites. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

* Drench feeding is a diluted liquid fertilizer applied directly to the soil area around the plant; whereas foliar feeding are light applications of diluted liquid fertilizer applied to the foliage (leaves) by means of spraying or another method to coat leaves.

Pruning Information

Do not prune. Remove dead leaves and spent flowers and fruit for a cleaner landscape appearance.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Dry to moderately moist conditions.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Will tolerate full sun but seem to prefer partial sun. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]


  • Cinder
  • Organic


Delissea are intolerant of salt spray and wind.

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Kauaʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Additional Habitat Information

Endemic to relict populations of northwest and southern Kauaʻi on cliffs and rocky slopes in mesic forests. [1]

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Delissea are members of the Bellflower family (Campanulaceae) which includes well over 100 Hawaiian endemic species.

Delissea is an endemic Hawaiian genus. Among the fifteen Delissea species, eleven are now extinct and the remaining four are critically endangered. [1]


The generic name Delissea is named for Jacques Delisse (1773-1856), a French physican and botanist from Mauritius, who served as naturalist on the D'Entrecasteaux expedition to the South Pacific in 1800-1804.

The specific name refers to the island of Kauaʻi where this delissea is endemic.

Until recently, this species was informally lumped in with Delissea rhytidosperma. [1]

Hawaiian Name:

ʻOha is used by one publication. [3]

Background Information


Early Hawaiian Use

There are no known uses for this species. However, it is quite likely that early Hawaiians were well aware of them.

Modern Use

The two Kauaʻi species (Delissea kauaiensis, D. rhytidosperma) are both in cultivation. [1,2]

Delissea do well indoors. Provide the plant with bright, but filtered light or full morning sun with sufficient moisture, light drench feedings of fertilizer once or twice a month, and gentle air movement. Though protected from most pests indoor, still keep an eye open for spider mites. These will get tall after a few years, but should comfortably accomodate most ceiling heights (8 ft.). [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Additional References

[1] "Revision of Delissea (Campanulaceae-Lobelioideae)" by Thomas G. Lammers, pages 1, 19-21, 71.

[2] Thomas G. Lammers [pers. comm.]

[3] "Hawaiian Plant Life--Vegetation and Flora" by Robert J. Gustafson, Derral R. Herbst & Philip W. Rundel, pages 83-84.

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