Ipomoea imperati

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hunakai

Hawaiian Names

  • Hunakai

Common Names

  • Beach morning glory
  • Beach morning-glory


  • Convolvulus imperati
  • Convolvulus stoloniferus
  • Ipomoea acetosaefolia
  • Ipomoea fauriei
  • Ipomoea littoralis
  • Ipomoea stolonifera

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Non-Woody, Spreading
  • Vine/Liana

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Herbaceous, Short, Less than 1

Mature Size, Width

Hunakai has a 30-foot spread.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Ground Cover

Additional Landscape Use Information

Give this vine plenty of room to spread. Hunakai is easy to grow and maintain in the landscape and stays very low to the ground. They can sometimes be passively aggressive and seem to pop up here and there in the landscape. This native morning glory looks very nice when grown in black cinder, coral rock, or sandy areas. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Source of Fragrance

  • No Fragrance

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • White
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

Hunakai has bright white flowers with a yellow, occasionally purple, throat.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine
  • Medium

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaf sizes range from one half inch to over 2 inches long. The glabrous (dull) leaves are variable and are oblong, oval and sometimes forming two or three lobes. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Hunakai is prone to the sweet potato weevil and the red spider mites.

leaf Growth Requirements


An application of a balanced slow release fertilize with minor elements every six months. Foliar feed monthly with kelp or fish emulsion, or a water-soluble fertilizer with a dilution of one half to one third of recommended strength. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Pruning Information

Hunakai might be described as passively aggressive and it is not necessary to prune unless invading nearby planting beds.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Once plants are well established, water only in times of prolonged drought. Very drought tolerant.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Additional Lighting Information

Hunakai does not do well in shaded conditions and appear to lessen flower production.


  • Drought
  • Brackish Water
  • Wind
  • Salt Spray
  • Heat


  • Sand
  • Cinder
  • Coral

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Niʻihau
  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Maui

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Additional Habitat Information

Hunakai is found on beaches and sand dunes.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Hunakai (Ipomoea imperati) is a member of the Morning glory family (Convolvulaceae), which comprises some 1,650 species throughout the world.

Hunakai is related to some local notable eatables as ʻuala or sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) and ung-choi or swamp cabbage (Ipomoea aquatica).

Native Hawaiian family members include a bonamia (Bonamia menziesii), makihi (Cressa truxillensis), koali ʻai (Ipomoea cairica), koali ʻawa (I. indica), Hawaiian moon flower (I. tuboides), pōhuehue (I. pes-caprae subsp. brasiliensis), kauna ʻoa (Cuscuta sandwichiana), pāʻuohiʻiaka (Jacquemontia ovalifolia subsp. sandwicensis), and the possibly indigenous White-flowered beach morning glory (Ipomoea littoralis).


The generic name Ipomoea is derived from the Greek ips, worm, and homoios, similar to, meaning worm-like, in reference to the twining habit.

The specific epithet imperati is derived from the Latin imperatus, ruler or emperor.

 Hawaiian Name:

The Hawaiian name Hunakai means "sea foam" which is appropriate for its shoreline habitat. This name is also shared by the sanderling (Calidris alba), a migratory shorebird that quickly runs along the receding waves on sandy shores in search of small edible creatures. [1] This habit of these tiny birds apparently reminded the early Hawaiians of the sea foam or hunakai left behind by the waves.

Background Information


Additional References

[1] "Hawaiʻi's Birds" (Hawaii Audubon Society), page 54.

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