Hibiscus arnottianus subsp. immaculatus

leaf Main Plant Information






  • immaculatus

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


  • Hibiscus immaculatus

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

Federally Listed

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Shrub
  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

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

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Hedges
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

The subspecies immaculatus is an easy to care for and very rewarding beautiful native hibiscus in the landscape which does not seem to grow as large as the other two subspecies.

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers

Additional Fragrance Information

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo flowers are often weakly fragrant.

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

The pure white flowers also have a white center or staminal column and long narrow petals.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine
  • Medium
  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves are from 1 1/2 to no greater than 11 inches long.

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

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 kokiʻo keʻokeʻo 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 to maintain shape, but avoid heavy pruning.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

When plant is well established water twice monthly or more during dry months.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo prefers full sun to flower best.


  • Drought
  • Wind


  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

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

This subspecies of kokiʻo keʻokeʻo is extremely rare in its native habitat on Molokaʻi where the few remaining plants grow in wet to mesic forests (50-1600 ft.). [3]

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 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. [5]

Flowers have a white staminal (stamen) column and fittingly has the botanical subspecies name immaculatus is Latin for "without spots" or "pure."

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.

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

Early Hawaiian Use

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

Modern Use

Two cultivars are recognized for this subspecies: cv. 'Molokaʻi White' and cv. 'Nuʻuanu White'. [2]

Additional References

[1] Jill Coryell, Hibiscus Lady
[2] [Accesed 10/1/08]
[3] "Recovery Plan for Molokai Plant Cluster," page 44.

[4] [Accessed 10/14/09]

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

[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.

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