Euphorbia skottsbergii

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Euphorbia

Species

skottsbergii

Varieties

  • skottsbergii
  • vacciniodes

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Koko
  • Kōkōmālei
  • ʻAkoko
  • ʻEkoko

Hawaiian Names

  • Akoko
  • Ekoko
  • Koko
  • Kokomalei

Common Names

  • Coast sandmat
  • ʻEwa Plains akoko

Synonyms

  • Chamaesyce multiformis var. haleakalana
  • Chamaesyce multiformis var. kapuleiensis
  • Chamaesyce skottsbergii
  • Chamaesyce skottsbergii var. audens
  • Chamaesyce skottsbergii var. kalaeloana
  • Euphorbia multiformis f. pekelonis
  • Euphorbia multiformis var. haleakalana
  • Euphorbia multiformis var. kapuleiensis
  • Euphorbia skottsbergii
  • Euphorbia skottsbergii var. audens
  • Euphorbia skottsbergii var. kalaeloana
  • Euphorbia skottsbergii var. vaccinioides

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

Federally Listed

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Partially Woody / Shrub-like
  • Shrub

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Dwarf, Less than 2
  • Shrub, Small, 2 to 6

Mature Size, Width

About 5 to 6 feet in width.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Hedges

Additional Landscape Use Information

This graceful shrub (var. skottsbergii) can be used in the landscape to lessen the harshness of an otherwise hot, dry location and does well on a west, southwest or south facing area. Black or red cinder or clean coral "rock" provide a natural mulch as well as highlight the tiny leaves. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Brownish
  • Greenish-White

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic
  • Spring
  • Winter

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Plants begin growing and flowering with the winter rain and throughout the wet season. When the dry season comes, the plants began to loose leaves and eventually beome dormant in the summer peak drought season. The winter wet season again initiates the growth and flowering cycle. [1]

After flowering, tiny fruiting capsules are formed. Upon ripening the capsules split and explosively cast (dehiscent) the tiny seeds abroad. They easily germinate under moist and partial sun conditions. The seedlings can at first be mistaken for some of the taller weedy spurges that plague many urban yards. But before pulling up the "weed," take the time to identify the difference between an ubiquitous spurge and an incredibly rare ʻakoko. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Whiteflies and spider mites on underside of leaves and sometimes scale along stems. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

This 'akoko does appreciate foliar feedings of fish or keep emulsion monthly or every other month on a regular basis. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Pruning Information

Little or no pruning required, but does taking moderate pruning well if needed. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Can grow in partial sun, but definitely prefers long days of full sun. This is a great plant to use on a west, south, or south-west location in the landscape. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Spacing Information

For denser plantings, perhaps 3 to 4 feet apart. To showcase these delicate shrubs, perhaps 5 or more feet apart. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Tolerances

  • Drought
  • Wind
  • Salt Spray

Soils

  • Sand
  • Cinder
  • Coral

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Maui
  • Kahoʻolawe

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)

Additional Habitat Information

This species of ʻakoko is found among coastal vegetation and dry shrubland, apparently restricted to calcareous (calcium carbonate or limestone).

The fedearlly endangered variety skottsbergii is restricted to Kalaeloa around the Barber's Point (Naval Air Station) vacinity on Oʻahu, and on northwest Molokaʻi from Waiakanapō and Pōhakumauliuli to Moʻomomi. [1]

The vulnerable variety vacciniodes is found mostly on Molokaʻi (Makakupaiʻa, Mākolelau, Kameloloa) with a very few collections on Kahoʻolawe and southern Maui, in low elevation shrublands in basalt soils. [2]

Even though there are separate island populations of var. skottsbergii, on Molokaʻi this variety appears to be genetically closer to variety vaccinioides than it does to the Oʻahu var. skottsbergii. Thus, C. Morden & M. Gregoritza suggest that it "should be recognized by the previously used variety name, C. skottsbergii var. audens." [2]

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

ʻAkoko (Chamaesyce) belong to the Spurge or Euphorbia family (Euphorbiaceae).

There are sixteen native species of ʻakoko (Chamaesyce 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 Chamaesyce degeneri to Chamaesyce olowaluana, which are nearly 30-foot trees--perhaps the tallest in the entire genus of 250 species worldwide!

The two other native members in Euphorbiaceae are poʻolā (Claoxylon sandwicense) and a native tree euphorbia (Euphorbia haeleeleana). Some well known non-native relatives are the Castor oil plant (Ricinus communis), kukui (Aleurites moluccana), poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), cassava (Manihot esculenta), and the Para rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) from which latex comes.

There a number of naturalized spurges that are generally considered as weeds. None of these are known by the Hawaiian name ʻakoko, which is reserved for the endemic species.

The two currently recognizedChamesyce skottsbergii varieties are separated by the following characteristics:

  • Variety skottsbergii is an overall smaller plant with toothed (serrate) or sometimes smooth edged leaves usually less than 3/4 of an inch (2 cm.).
  • Variety vaccinioides is a more robust plant with smooth edged (entire) leaves usually more than 3/4 of an inch (2 cm.).

Etymology

Name 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 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] "Recovery Plan for Chamaesyce skottsbergii var. skottsbergii and Achyranthes spendens var. rotundata," by USFWS, pages 4, 10, 13, 14, 17.

[2] "Population variation and phylogeny in the endangered Chamaesyce skottsbergii (Euphorbiaceae) based on RAD and ITS analyses," by Clifford W. Morden & Monica Gregoritza, pages 969-977.

[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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