Hibiscus arnottianus

leaf Main Plant Information






  • arnottianus
  • immaculatus
  • punaluuensis

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Aloalo
  • Hau hele
  • Kokiʻo kea
  • Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo
  • Pāmakani

Hawaiian Names

  • Aloalo
  • Hau hele
  • Kokio kea
  • Kokio keokeo
  • Pamakani

Common Names

  • Molokaʻi white hibiscus
  • Oʻahu white hibiscus
  • White rosemallow


  • Hibiscus immaculatus
  • Hibiscus punaluuensis
  • Hibiscus waimeae var. hookeri

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Shrub

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Medium, 6 to 10
  • Shrub, Tall, Greater than 10

Mature Size, Width

20 feet

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Container
  • Hedges
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers

Additional Fragrance Information

Depending on the source and variety, kokiʻo keʻokeʻo may have scentless to mildly fragrant flowers.

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • Red
  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo flowers are white with a red center or staminal (stamen) column in subspecies arnottianus and subsp. punaluuensis. They are pure white with a white staminal column in subspecies immaculatus.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Many varieties will have red veins in leaves.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Plants are prone to sucking insects. Chinese rose beetles can be removed by hand. Leaf spot is also a common fungal disease.

leaf Growth Requirements


Fertilize hibiscus using a 2-1-3 or 2-.5-3 ratio with minor elements. It is important to keep the phosphorus low because it tends to accumulate and prevents the nitrogen and potassium from working. Minor elements such as magnesium and iron are also important to maintain healthy green foliage. [1]

Pruning Information

Prune as required but generally best not to prune too heavily.

Water Requirements

  • Moist

Additional Water Information

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo can do well in either moist or dry conditions.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo seem to flower more profusely in full sun.


  • Drought


  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)

Additional Habitat Information

Wet or mesic forests.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

The large Mallow family Malvaceae contains some 2,300 species, with notables such as okra, cacao, durian, baobab, kenaf, and cotton. [4]

There are perhaps as many as 300 species worldwide in the genus Hibiscus. There are six native species of hibiscuses in Hawaii and all but one are endemic.

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo (Hibiscus arnottianus) has three uniquely different subspecies. The Molokaʻi subspecies immaculatus is an endangered species and extremely rare in its native habitat.

The two native Hawaiian white hibiscuses, Hibiscus arnottianus and H. waimeae, are the only known species of hibiscuses in the world known to have fragrant flowers!

Early Hawaiian Use

The bases of the buds of hau hele (H. arnottianus, H. furcellatus) were chewed by the mother and given to infants as a laxative. Children would chew and swallow seeds for general weakness of the body. [5]

Both red and white hibiscuses were grown near dwellings for their flowers. [3]

Modern Use

The native white hibiscuses have been used extensively in hybridization. Several cultivars are recognized for this species. For the subspecies arnottianus, the cultivars include cv. 'Kanani Kea', cv. 'Shy Girl', cv. 'Tantalus White' and cv. 'Waiʻanae White'. For the subspecies immaculatus, the cultivars include cv. 'Molokaʻi White' and cv. 'Nuʻuanu White'. The subspecies punaluuensis has one known cultivar called cv. 'Punaluʻu White'. [2]

Additional References

[1] Jill Coryell, Hibiscus Lady
[2] http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/HBS/botany/cultivatedplants/?str=hibiscus [Accesed 10/1/08]

[3] "Native Planters in Old Hawaii--Their Life, Lore, & Environment" by E. S. Handy and Elizabeth green Handy, page 233.

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malvaceae [accessed 10/14/09]

[5] "Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value," by D.M. Kaaiakamanu & J.K. Akina, page 40.




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