Hawaiian Names with Diacritics
- Hawaiian dianella
- Hawaiian lily
- Dianella lavarum
- Dianella multipedicellata
- Dianella odorata
Names with Unknown Sources
- Uki uki
Endangered Species Status
Plant Form / Growth Habit
- Non-Woody, Spreading
Mature Size, Height (in feet)
- Grass-like, Short, Less than 1
- Grass-like, Medium, 1 to 2.5
- Grass-like, Tall, Greater than or equal to 2.5
Mature Size, Width
ʻUkiʻuki can have a 3- to 5-foot spread.
Long lived (Greater than 5 years)
- Ground Cover
Additional Landscape Use Information
ʻUkiʻuki is a great understory with trees, shrubs and groundcovers. There are different varieties of ʻukiʻuki, from short compact plants (1 to 1 1/2 ft. tall) with brilliant bluish-purple fruits to taller, thin leaved ones (to 3 ft.) with fruits that look brownish-purple. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola] There is even a white-fruited form with paler green foliage.
This is a great container plant and should be given part shade to full sun with ferilizers at half strength. 
Plant Produces Flowers
- Light Blue
Additional Flower Color Information
Flowers of ʻukiʻuki are pale blue to white with orange filaments and yellow anthers.
- Year Round
Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information
One of the nicest features of ʻukiʻuki are the striking blue-purple fruits on some forms.
Additional Plant Texture Information
Leaves range from approximately 12 to 40 inches long.
- Dark Green
- Medium Green
Additional Pest & Disease Information
ʻUkiʻuki is prone to mealy bugs and scale and are protected by ants.
An application of a balanced slow release fertilize with minor elements every six months. Foliar feed monthly with kelp or fish emulsion or a water-soluble fertilizer with a dilution of one half to one third of recommended strength. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]
Remove the occasional brown leaves and spent flowering and fruiting stalks to maintain a clean landscape appearance. Dividing the clumps is recommended periodically. [Native Nursery, LLC]
Additional Water Information
Ukiʻuki has a wide range for water requirements, growing in dry, moist or wet conditions. Thoroughly water plants and then water weekly until established when the plant shows new growth. Watering can be cut back to once or twice a week. Mulching will help retain moisture. [Native Nursery, LLC]
Soil must be well drained
- Full sun
- Partial sun
ʻUkiʻuki should be spaced 1 to 2 ft. apart for use as a groundcover.
- Salt Spray
Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)
- 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
Additional Habitat Information
ʻUkiʻuki is found from somewhat open to shaded sites usually in mesic forests, but also in dry shrubland, grassland on lava and in wet forests.
The genus Dianella, has gone through some family changes recently. Once was in the Lily family (Liliaceae). Then, in the Daylily family or Hermerocallidaceae. Now Dianella is placed in the Xanthorrhoeaceae.
ʻUkiʻuki (D. sandwicensis) is the sole family representative native to the Hawaiian Islands.
The generic name Dianella is from the Roman deity Diana (lit., divine), goddess of chastity, hunting, and the moon, and the Latin ella is diminutive or small.
The species name sandwicensis refers to the "Sandwich Islands," as the Hawaiian Islands were once called, and named by James Cook on one of his voyages in the 1770's. James Cook named the islands after John Montagu (The fourth Earl of Sandwich) for supporting Cook's voyages.
ʻUki is also a name used for several native sedges.
Early Hawaiian Use
The leaves were also braided into cordage. [1,2,5]
Juice extract used as pale to purple-blue dye when mixed with lime for kapa. [1,2,5]
The leaves were used for hale (house) thatching. [1,2,5]
The fruit was used for seed lei. [1,2,4,5,6*]
* Uses the term "seed lei" in this particular reference may refer the fruit itself, since the context of the sentence also says "the dark purple berries of ʻukiʻuki (Dianella sandwicensis)...." The term "seed lei" usually refers to a lei with seeds strung for permanent lei, such as with wiliwili, lonomea, or kukui.
Today, ʻukiʻuki fruit is still used as a natural dye for kapa and other cloths.
 "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 67.
 "Arts and Crafts of Hawaii" by Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter H. Buck), page 187.
 "Container Gardening in Hawaii" by Janice Crowl, page 51.
 "Nā Lei Makamae--The Treasured Lei" by Marie A. McDonald & Paul R. Weissich, page 146.
 "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, page 192.
 "Lāʻau Hawaiʻi: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants" by Isabella Aiona Abbott, page 125.
Back to Plant List
Other Nursery Profiles for Dianella sandwicensis