Hibiscus brackenridgei

leaf Main Plant Information






  • brackenridgei
  • mokuleianus
  • molokaiana

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Aloalo
  • Maʻo hau hele

Hawaiian Names

  • Aloalo
  • Mao hau hele

Common Names

  • Brackenridge's rosemallow
  • Native yellow hibiscus


  • Hibiscus brackenridgei subsp. molokaianus

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

Federally Listed

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Partially Woody / Shrub-like
  • Sprawling Shrub
  • Shrub
  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Small, 2 to 6
  • Shrub, Medium, 6 to 10
  • Shrub, Tall, Greater than 10
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30

Mature Size, Width

Maʻo hau hele has an 8- to 10-foot spread.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Container
  • Hedges
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

Maʻo hau hele does very well in sunny areas such as south and west facing locations in the landscape. Over watering can cause powdery mildew on leaves and root rot. The sharp prickles around the base of the flowers can be a deterrent to picking the striking yellow flowers.

Source of Fragrance

  • No Fragrance

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

Maʻo hau hele produce bright yellow flowers with varying amounts of red or maroon in the centers of some varieties.

Blooming Period

  • Sporadic
  • Spring
  • Winter
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Maʻo hau hele is typically a winter/spring flowering hibiscus, blooming from early February through late May or intermittently at other times of the year. [2]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium
  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves of maʻo hau hele range from 2 to about 6 inches long and have a slightly rough, sand paper-like texture. A smooth, or glabrous, form exists on Lānaʻi. [Robert Hobdy, Botanist]

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Leaves are grayish green to medium green.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Mealy bugs can congregate in growing tips and deform the branch tips of maʻo hau hele. Ants and stress are the main causes of mealy bug infestations. Mealy bugs, white flies, spider mites and aphids are the common pests. Root knot nematodes can be controlled organically by planting African marigolds in the area. Overwatering can cause powdery mildew on leaves and root rot. Chinese rose beetles will chew holes in the leaves.

leaf Growth Requirements


Fertilize maʻo hau hele 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

Plants can be pruned back after flowering. Young plants should be pruned to encourage branching. Do not prune in winter and spring when it is flowering. Maʻo hau hele has a weak root system and can topple over if top heavy, pruning plant about 1/3 can prevent this.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Do not over water maʻo hau hele.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Maʻo hau hele does best in full sun.


  • Drought
  • Heat


  • Cinder


Because of a shallow root system, maʻo hau hele is prone to toppling in strong winds.

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Additional Habitat Information

Maʻo hau hele is rare in very localized dry forests and shrub lands. Maʻo hau hele was reportedly collected on Kahoʻolawe as well.

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. [5]

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.

Maʻo hau hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei) has three subspecies. All are federally listed as an endangered species.

Early Hawaiian Use

Maʻo hau hele was planted for an ornamental use. [4]

Modern Use

When the hibiscus was named as the official flower for the Territory of Hawaii by the Legislature in 1923, it was not specified as to which particular hibiscus species or variety. This lead to some confusion. In time many considered the native red or the Chinese red hibiscuses as the state flower. In 1988, however, Hawaii's State Legislature resolved the issue by declaring the native yellow hibiscus or maʻo hau hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei), as the official flower of the State of Hawaii. [3]

Additional References

[1] Jill Coryell, Hibiscus Lady
[2] "Recovery Plant for the Multi-Island Plants" by USFWS, page 88
[3] Hawaiian Encyclopedia http://www.hawaiianencyclopedia.com/island-emblems.asp [accessed August 6, 2008]

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

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




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