Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae

leaf Main Plant Information






  • hannerae

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Aloalo
  • Kokiʻo kea
  • Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo

Hawaiian Names

  • Aloalo
  • Kokio kea
  • Kokio keokeo

Common Names

  • Kauaʻi white hibiscus
  • Minature Hawaiian white hibiscus
  • Small Kauaʻi white hibiscus
  • White Kauaʻi rosemallow

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

Federally Listed

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Shrub
  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

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

Mature Size, Width

From 12 to 14 ft. [Michael DeMotta, National Tropical Botanical Garden]

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Container
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

This smaller, fragrant flowered species seems more tolerant shade than other native hibiscuses, but will grow well in full sun as well.

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers

Additional Fragrance Information

Flowers can be very fragrant.

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • Red
  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

This kokiʻo keʻokeʻo has small white flowers with red centers or stamens.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

The flowers are smaller than subsp. waimeae. The plants may cease to bloom for a short period especially during the winter or early spring months. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium
  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves with a slightly rough or a fine sandpaper-like texture, range from 2 to 7 and 10 inches long.

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

The plant has bigger leaves than ssp. waimeae.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo is prone to sucking insects. The Chinese rose beetle can be removed by hand.

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

This beautiful shrub looks great in its natural free form. It is best to prune subspecies hannerae only as needed to maintain shape. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Plants are known to tolerate both dry and moist conditions.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Plants can tolerate full sun, but seems to prefer some partial shade. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]


  • Drought


  • Cinder
  • Organic

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

A rare hibiscus and found Hanakāpīʻai, Limahuli, and Kalihi Wai valleys in northwestern part of Kauaʻi.

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. [2]

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 waimeae) has two subspecies. The subspecies hannerae is federally listed as an endangered species. It is distinguished by the much larger leaves and smaller flowers than appear in subspecies waimeae.


The generic name Hibiscus is derived from hibiscos, the Greek name for mallow. 

The specific epithet waimeae refers to the Waimea Canyon, Kauaʻi, where this species is found.

The subspecies hannerae was named by the botanist couple Otto and Isa Degener in honor of Mrs. Ruth Knudsen Hanner, a supporter of their work on Kauaʻi. [3]

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.

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 waimeae subsp. hannerae may now be given full species status as Hibiscus hannerae. [5]

Early Hawaiian Use

Both the native red and white hibiscuses were grown near their houses for their flowers. [4]

Additional References

[1] Jill Coryell, Hibiscus Lady

[2] [Accessed 10/14/09]

[3] Federal Register. Vol. 61, No. 198, page 48.

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

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



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