Hibiscus waimeae subsp. waimeae

leaf Main Plant Information






  • waimeae

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Aloalo
  • Kokiʻo kea
  • Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo

Hawaiian Names

  • Aloalo
  • Kokio kea
  • Kokio keokeo

Common Names

  • Kauaʻi white hibiscus
  • White Kauaʻi rosemallow

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

Cultivated plants can grow to 20 ft. or more. But more likely around 8-10 ft. wide. [Michael DeMotta, National Tropical Botanical Garden]

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Hedges
  • Provides Shade
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

Not as prone to get hibiscus erineum mites that plague many hibiscus hybrids.

Plants may be trimmed to make a good shade tree. [2]

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers

Additional Fragrance Information

Flowers are slight to very fragrant, while some specimens have no detectable fragrance.

Hibiscus waimeae is the most fragrant of the native whites. [6]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • Red
  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

Flowers open white, with a red center or staminal (stamen) column and fade to a pinkish color in the afternoon.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

The plants may cease to bloom for a short period especially during the winter or early spring months.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine
  • Medium
  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves range from 2 to 10 inches long, usually rounder at the leaf tips, and have a fine sandpaper-like texture, unlike the smooth feel of Hibiscus arnottianus.

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

The lower surfaces of the leaves are grayish.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

These plants are prone to sucking insects. Chinese rose beetles can be removed by hand.

leaf Growth Requirements


Fertilize this 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

While kokiʻo keʻokeʻo takes pruning well, it is best to prune only as needed. This beautiful shrub looks great in its natural free form with an occasional pruning of branches here and there to maintain shape.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Seems to flowers best in full sun.


  • Drought
  • Wind


  • 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

Plants are found in Waimea Canyon on Kauaʻi and grow in diverse 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. [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 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. [5]


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

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

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. waimeae may now be given full species status as Hibiscus waimeae.

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] "Small Trees for Tropical Landscape" by Fred D. Rauch & Paul R. Weissich, page 62.

[3] [Accessed 10/14/09]

[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.

[6] Session with Heidi Bornhorst at the Landscape Industry Council of Hawaiʻi Conference & Tradeshow, 10/10/13.

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