Euphorbia celastroides var. stokesii

leaf Main Plant Information






  • stokesii

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Koko
  • Kōkōmālei
  • ʻAkoko
  • ʻEkoko

Hawaiian Names

  • Akoko
  • Ekoko
  • Koko
  • Kokomalei


  • Chamaesyce celastroides var. kealiana
  • Chamaesyce celastroides var. moomomiana
  • Chamaesyce celastroides var. stokesii
  • Euphorbia celastroides var. moomomiana
  • Euphorbia stokesii

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

At Risk

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Shrub

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

No data available.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Hedges

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

While the flowers are not showy, the bright pinkish to red fruits can be uniquely appealing en masse.

Blooming Period

  • Sporadic

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine
  • Medium

Leaf Colors

  • Gray / Silverish
  • Light Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Red spider mites and mealybugs can be problematic if not controlled.

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

Additional Water Information

This variety seems to tolerate moist to dry conditions.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun


  • Drought
  • Wind
  • Salt Spray


  • Sand
  • Cinder
  • Coral

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Niʻihau
  • Kauaʻi
  • Molokaʻi
  • Kahoʻolawe

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

No data available.

Additional Habitat Information

This rare variety is down to about a thousand or so plants and found on windswept cliffs and ledges above the ocean. It is from Niʻihau and nearby Kaʻula Islet, Kauaʻi (Kīlauea Pt.), Molokaʻi, and Kahoʻolawe.

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.


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 varietal name, stokesii, was named for John Francis Gray Stokes (1876-1960), American photographer, genealogist, archaeologist and a plant collector in the Hawaiian Islands and Polynesia.

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. [2]

Background Information

This ʻakoko (Chamaesyce celastroides) is the by far the most variable and widespread of all the Hawaiian Chamaesyce. The erect capsules (fruits) distinguish them from other species, except C. herbstii and C. rockii, which have distinctively larger fruits.

Additional References

[1] "Hawaii Biodiversity Mapping Program"

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

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