Ipomoea tuboides

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Ipomoea

Species

tuboides

Common Names

  • Hawaiian moon flower
  • Hawaiian moonflower
  • Hawaiʻi morning glory

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Partially Woody / Shrub-like
  • Vine/Liana

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Herbaceous, Short, Less than 1
  • Herbaceous, Medium, 1-3

Mature Size, Width

10 feet or more.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Ground Cover

Additional Landscape Use Information

A great groundcover for hot and dry landscapes requring very little water--a true xeric plant! It can become passively invasive and may need to be trimmed back occasionally.

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Showy

Flower Colors

  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

Flowers are bright white when they open at night and fade to lavender when wilted.

Blooming Period

  • Sporadic

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green
  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Leaves are chartreuse to green.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Sweet potato weevil, spider mites.

leaf Growth Requirements

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

In dry times of the year or when water is withheld, the foliage of the Hawaiian moon flower dies back to the ground. Underground is a large tuber, sometimes 6 inches or more long and 2 inches in diameter, and about 6 inches or more underground. When it rains or watering resumes, it sprouts and sends out its vines once again. [2]

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Tolerances

  • Drought

Soils

  • Cinder

Limitations

If there is some limitation to the Hawaiian moon flower, it might be that the flowers are appreciated by early risers. Usually, the bright white tubular flowers open at night and close by early morning.

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Niʻihau
  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Kahoʻolawe
  • 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)

Habitat

  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

These endemic vines are found in dry forest and shrubland on arid rocky talus slopes, and ʻaʻā lava from sea level to around 2000 feet.

Endemic to Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu (Waiʻanae Mountains and the plains at the southwestern tip of the island), West and East Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, West and East Maui, and Hawaiʻi island. [Joel Lau, Botanist]

Ipomoea tuboides is occasional in a few areas of the Hawaiian Islands, but it is rare over most of its range. It is rare on Oʻahu. [Joel Lau, Botanist]

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Hawaiian moon flower (Ipomoea tuboides) is a member of the Morning glory family (Convolvulaceae), which comprises some 1,650 species throughout the world.

It 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), hunakai (I. imperati), koali ʻawa (I. indica), pōhuehue (I. pes-caprae subsp. brasiliensis), kauna ʻoa (Cuscuta sandwichiana), pāʻuohiʻiaka (Jacquemontia ovalifolia subsp. sandwicensis), and possibly the White-flowered beach morning glory (Ipomoea littoralis). Hawaiian moon flower (Ipomoea tuboides) is the only endemic Ipomoea sp. in the Hawaiian Islands.

Etymology

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

Background Information

Some consider this endemic plant as a "weed." [1]

Early Hawaiian Use

No Hawaiian name has yet to be found for this plant.

George Munro, botanist, notes: "The root was used by food by the Hawaiians in times of scarcity. Hillebrand mentioned that the root of the koali ʻai was used as food in times of shortage but did not mention the moonflower." [2]

Additional References

[1] "Handbook of Hawaiian Weeds" by E. L. Haselwood, page 320.

[2] "The Strory of Lānaʻi" by George C. Munro, pages 71, 214.

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