Hibiscus arnottianus subsp. arnottianus

leaf Main Plant Information






  • arnottianus

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

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

Hawaiian Names

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

Common Names

  • Oʻahu white hibiscus


  • Hibiscus waimeae var. hookeri

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Shrub
  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Tall, Greater than 10
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30
  • Tree, Medium, 30 to 50

Mature Size, Width

Plants have a spread of 20 feet or more.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Container
  • Hedges
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers

Additional Fragrance Information

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo flowers usually have a weak fragrance. But, flowers have the most scent in the early morning when flowers open or in the early evening before they close.

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • Red
  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo has a red enter or staminal (stamen) column. The white flowers may change to pink, especially towards the end of the day.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine
  • Medium
  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Depending on the subspecies, the leaves range from about 1 1/2 to 12 inches long. The leaves of subspecies punaluuensis are usually much larger than the other two subspecies and ranging from 4 to up to 12" long!

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Leaves may have red veins.

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 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

Some varieties can grow to be leggy. Pruning encourages a thicker plant for hedges or shrubs. Dead and diseased woody parts should be pruned at least twice a year. Best not to prune too heavily.

Water Requirements

  • Moist

Additional Water Information

When kokiʻo keʻokeʻo is well established, water twice a month or more during dry months. Plant can tolerate both dry and moist conditions.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo does best in full sun, but tolerates partial shade. Shade often reduces flower production.

Spacing Information

Plants should be spaced 3 to 6 feet apart with a minimum height to width ratio of 2:1.


  • Drought


  • Cinder
  • Organic
  • Coral


It is sometimes drought tolerant but appreciates frequent watering.

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

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

Additional Habitat Information

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo grows in wet to mesic forests in the Waiʻanae and Koʻolau Mountains on Oʻahu.

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. [3]

There are perhaps as many as 300 species worldwide in the genus Hibiscus. There are six native species of hibiscuses in Hawaiʻi 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 generic name Hibiscus is derived from hibiscos, the Greek name for mallow.

The specific and subspecific epithets are named in behalf of George Walker Arnott (1799-1868), Scottish botanist, traveler, collector and director of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. [4] 

Hawaiian Names:

Aloalo is the name given for hibiscus in general.

Hau is an introduced hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus), perhaps by early Hawaiians. Hau hele literally means "traveling hau."

Kokiʻo kea and Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo literally mean "white kokiʻo" and "white, white [clear white] kokiʻo," respectively.

Pāmakani is a name given to this species of hibiscus and also to a native violet (Viola chamissoniana).

Background Information

The two native Hawaiian white hibiscuses, Hibiscus arnottianus and H. waimeae, are the only species of hibiscuses in the world known to have fragrant flowers! Also, See the subheading "Additional Fragrance Information" under "Plant Characteristics" for more information.

The name Wilder's white hibiscus is used by one source. [4]

New DNA evidence suggests that Hibiscus arnottianus subsp. arnottianus may now be given full species status as Hibiscus arnottianus. [7]

Early Hawaiian Use

Both the native red and white hibiscuses were grown near their houses for their flowers. [6]

Modern Use

Hibiscus arnottianus is a source of numerous horticultural varieties. The flowers last two days, instead of one. [5]

Several cultivars have been recognized: cv. 'Kanani Kea', cv. 'Shy Girl', cv. 'Tantalus White' and cv. 'Waiʻanae White' are among them. [2]

Additional References

[1] Jill Coryell, Hibiscus Lady
[2] [Accesed 10/1/08]

[3] [Accessed 10/14/09]

[4] "Hibiscus: Hardy and Tropical Plants for the Garden" by Barbara Perry Lawton, page 105.

[5] "Common Forest Trees of Hawaii (Native and Introduced)" by Elbert L. Little Jr. and Roger G. Skolmen, page 216.

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

[7] "Hawaii Landscape" Sept./Oct. 2013 issue, pages 16-17.




leafMore Links

Plant Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Back to Plant List

Plant List

Other Nursery Profiles for Hibiscus arnottianus subsp. arnottianus