Dianella sandwicensis

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • ʻUki
  • ʻUkiʻuki

Hawaiian Names

  • Uki
  • Ukiuki

Common Names

  • Hawaiian dianella
  • Hawaiian lily


  • Dianella lavarum
  • Dianella multipedicellata
  • Dianella odorata

Names with Unknown Sources

  • Uki uki

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No 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.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • 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. [3]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Light Blue
  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

Flowers of ʻukiʻuki are pale blue to white with orange filaments and yellow anthers.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

One of the nicest features of ʻukiʻuki are the striking blue-purple fruits on some forms.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium
  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves range from approximately 12 to 40 inches long.

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

ʻUkiʻuki is prone to mealy bugs and scale and are protected by ants.

leaf Growth Requirements


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]

Pruning Information

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]

Water Requirements

  • Dry
  • Moist

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


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Spacing Information

ʻUkiʻuki should be spaced 1 to 2 ft. apart for use as a groundcover.


  • Drought
  • Wind
  • Salt Spray
  • Heat


  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 150 to 1000, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 2000 to 2999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 3000 to 3999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 3000 to 3999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 4000 to 4999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 4000 to 4999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 4000 to 4999, Greater than 100 (Wet)


  • Terrestrial

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 from about 390 to over 7000 feet.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

The genus Dianella, has gone through some family changes. Once was in the Lily family (Liliaceae). Then, in the Daylily family or Hermerocallidaceae. Then, in Xanthorrhoeaceae. Now Dianella is placed in Asphodelaceae.  Will this charming species finally find it's home with a good family?  Stay tuned...only time and taxonomists will tell.

ʻUkiʻuki (D. sandwicensis) is the sole family representative native to the Hawaiian Islands.

It is possible that there are more than one species native to the islands.  There are, indeed, three separate forms known: Dianella lavarum (pictured above), D. multipedicellata and D. sandwicensis.


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.

Hawaiian Names:

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]

House Construction:

The leaves were used for hale (house) thatching. [1,2,5]


The fruit was used for seed lei. [1,2,4,5,6*]


*[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.

Modern Use

Today, ʻukiʻuki fruit is still used as a natural dye for kapa and other cloths.

The blue berries can be eaten and are said to 'kind of taste like a catcus plant or a dragonfruit. Not a whole lot of flavor.' [Ed Kenney, host of "Family Ingredients", S2, Ep6]

Additional References

[1] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 67.
[2] "Arts and Crafts of Hawaii" by Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter H. Buck), page 187.

[3] "Container Gardening in Hawaii" by Janice Crowl, page 51.

[4] "Nā Lei Makamae--The Treasured Lei" by Marie A. McDonald & Paul R. Weissich, page 146.

[5] "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, page 192.

[6] "Lāʻau Hawaiʻi: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants" by Isabella Aiona Abbott, page 125.



leafMore Links

Plant Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Back to Plant List

Plant List

Other Nursery Profiles for Dianella sandwicensis