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Melanthera integrifolia

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Melanthera

Species

integrifolia

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Nehe

Hawaiian Names

  • Nehe

Synonyms

  • Lipochaeta integrifolia
  • Lipochaeta porophila
  • Microchaeta integrifolia

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Non-Woody, Spreading
  • Partially Woody / Shrub-like

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Herbaceous, Short, Less than 1

Mature Size, Width

Nehe can spread to over 6 feet in width.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Erosion Control
  • Ground Cover

Additional Landscape Use Information

Nehe is tolerant of high heat, salt spray and strong winds. This native groundcover looks great in rock gardens and draped over retaining walls or can be grown between stepping stones if the soil is well drained and not part of a high traffic area.

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Showy

Flower Colors

  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

The attractive yellow flowers are daisy-like and have 25 to 50 disk florets per head.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

The mature plants bloom year round.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine

Additional Plant Texture Information

Nehe leaves are somewhat fleshy and oblong, with the plant trunk partially woody at its base.

Leaf Colors

  • Gray / Silverish
  • Light Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Nehe is prone to ants, scale, spittle bugs and mealy bugs. If plants are kept too moist, they may be subject to powdery mildew.

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

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

Pruning Information

Nehe will spread into other gardens but not aggressively. Trim back as needed with a hand pruner or knife. Do not use a string trimmer (weed whacker) which results in frayed edges of the plant.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

A good soaking every other day will help this plant establish itself. When plant begins to show signs of new growth, slowly reduce the amount of watering. In one to two months you should just have to water twice a week at most. Overwatering will make the plant grow too quickly, making it look leggy or sparse. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola] When watering this plant, try to water the ground around plants, not the foliage.

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Full sun is required for continual flowering and healthy foliage, but it can tolerate some shade.

Spacing Information

Space at least 1 foot apart between plantings. The plants will grow together, forming a mat.

Tolerances

  • Drought
  • Wind
  • Salt Spray
  • Heat

Soils

  • Sand
  • Cinder
  • Coral

Limitations

Keep weeds out of nehe beds.

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Niʻihau
  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Kahoʻolawe
  • Hawaiʻi
  • Northwest Islands

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Additional Habitat Information

Nehe (M. integrifolia) is scattered to common locally along the coastal environments. In the Northwest Islands, nehe is found only on Kure Atoll and Laysan.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Nehe are members of the Sunflower or Aster family (Asteraceae). There fourteen endemic species of Melanthera in the Hawaiian Islands.

The taxonomic genus name has been changed from Lipochaeta to Melanthera.

Melanthera integrifolia hybridizes with Lipochaeta lobata subsp. lobata at Kaʻena Pt., Oʻahu. The hybrids produce nearly sterile seed.

Etymology

The Greek generic name Melanthera means black-stamened-one. [2]

The specific epithet integrifolia is derived from the Latin integra, with entire, and folius, leaves.

Early Hawaiian Use

One older source (Charles Gaudichaud,1819) states that Hawaiians "used all fragrant plants, all flowers and even colored fruits" for lei making. The red or yellow were indicative of divine and cheifly rank; the purple flowers and fruit, or with fragrance, were associated with divinety. Because of their long-standing place in oral tradition, the flowers of nehe were likely used for lei making by early Hawaiians, even though there are no written sources. [1]

Modern Use

Nehe flowers continue to be used in lei making.

Additional References

[1] "Nā Lei Makamae--The Treasured Lei" by Marie A. McDonald & Paul R. Weissich, pages XIV-XV, 100.

[2] "The Names of Plants" by David Gledhill, pages 215, 255.

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