Euphorbia celastroides var. amplectens

leaf Main Plant Information






  • amplectens

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Koko
  • Kōkōmālei
  • ʻAkoko
  • ʻEkoko

Hawaiian Names

  • Akoko
  • Ekoko
  • Koko
  • Kokomalei


  • Chamaesyce celastroides f. kahanana
  • Chamaesyce celastroides var. amplectens
  • Chamaesyce celastroides var. halawana
  • Chamaesyce celastroides var. ingrata
  • Chamaesyce celastroides var. kohalana
  • Chamaesyce celastroides var. saxicola
  • Chamaesyce celastroides var. waikoluensis
  • Chamaesyce multiformis var. manoana
  • Euphorbia celastroides f. kahanana
  • Euphorbia celastroides var. arenisaxosa
  • Euphorbia celastroides var. halawana
  • Euphorbia celastroides var. ingrata
  • Euphorbia celastroides var. kohalana
  • Euphorbia celastroides var. saxicola
  • Euphorbia celastroides var. waikoluensis
  • Euphorbia multiformis var. manoana

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Sprawling Shrub
  • Shrub

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Small, 2 to 6
  • Shrub, Medium, 6 to 10

Mature Size, Width

The variety amplectens is variable and can have a spread of ten feet or more.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Ground Cover
  • Hedges
  • Screening

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers

Additional Fragrance Information

The pungent flowers of ʻakoko have been described as smelling like bad breath. [Kim Starr, United States Geological Survey-Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Brownish
  • Greenish-White

Additional Flower Color Information

As with most ʻakoko, the flowers are not attractive. The red or pinkish fruits, however, enhance the beautiful foliage.

Blooming Period

  • Sporadic

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine
  • Medium

Additional Plant Texture Information

The leaves of this variety are pubescent (fuzzy).

Leaf Colors

  • Gray / Silverish
  • Light Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

As with many ʻakoko, mealybugs can be a minor to serious problem if not controlled. Spider mites can also can damage to leaves.

leaf Growth Requirements

Pruning Information

Generally not necessary to prune plants except to remove dead branches and leaves for a cleaner appearance in the landscape. A milky, sticky latex naturally oozes from wounds.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun


  • Drought

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Niʻihau
  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Kahoʻolawe
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

No data available.

Additional Habitat Information

A fairy common drought-deciduous variety found in arid rocky slopes on all the main islands. [2]

The variety amplectens, a common plant, apparently hybridzes with var. kaenana, an endangered species in the inland portion of var. kaenana range in part of Punapōhaku Gulch on the north side of Kahanahaiki Valley in the Mākua Military Reservation. This appears to be a hybrid swarm. [1]

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

ʻAkoko belong to the Spurge or Euphorbia family (Euphorbiaceae). The genus has recently been chnged from Chamaesyce to Euphorbia.

There are seventeen native species of ʻakoko (Euphorbia spp.)--all of which are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. A number of ʻakoko are either vulnerable, rare or endangered, with two considered extinct. Several have beautiful foliage and range in size from very prostrate sub-shrubs such as Euphorbia degeneri to Euphorbia olowaluana, which are nearly 30-foot trees--perhaps the tallest in the entire genus of 250 species worldwide!

Another native member in Euphorbiaceae is poʻolā (Claoxylon sandwicense). Some well known non-native relatives are the Castor oil plant (Ricinus communis), kukui (Aleurites moluccana), poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), cassava (Manihot esculenta), and the Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) from which latex comes.

Leaves of some species turn red when the plant is overly stressed. [1]


The former generic name Chamaesyce is derived from the Greek chamai, on the ground, and sykon, fig, perhaps in reference to the low habit of most species and the fig-like apperance of the capsules.

The current genus is Euphorbia, and is classically supposed to have been named for Euphorbus, a physician to the king of Mauretania in the first century A.D. (C.E.).

The specific epithet celastroides means "resembling Celastrus," a genus of shrubs and vines commonly known as staff vines, staff trees or bittersweet.

The variety name amplectens means clasping, surround or wind around.

Hawaiian Names:

The name ʻakoko comes from the Hawaiian word koko for blood. They get their name from the red, or blood-colored, seed capsules appearing as drops of blood on the plant. [3,4]

Additional References

[1] U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Chamaesyce celastroides var. kaenana, 5-Year Review Summary and Evaluation, page 5.

[2] "Photosynthesis in Tree Form Euphorbia Species from Hawaiian Rainforest Sites" by Robert Pearcy & John Troughton, page 1055.

[3] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice Krauss, page 138.

[4] "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, page 516.



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