Metrosideros macropus

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Metrosideros

Species

macropus

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Lehua
  • ʻŌhiʻa
  • ʻŌhiʻa lehua

Hawaiian Names

  • Lehua
  • Ohia
  • Ohia lehua

Synonyms

  • Metrosideros macropus f. ruber
  • Nania macropus

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Dwarf, Less than 15
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30

Mature Size, Width

About ten or more feet.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

This unique ʻōhiʻa (M. macropus) is rather easy to grow in the landscape, even at low elevations, as long as it is given good sunlight and good soil drainage. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

These ʻōhiʻa, like others, are sensitive to root disturbance. A few planting guidelines can help: Dig a larger planting hole than the root ball, perhaps as much as twice as large. Put good drainage material such as black or red cinder in the bottom. When planting ʻōhiʻa never splay out the root ball but gently place in hole as is. Nor should ʻōhiʻa be planted too deep. Soil should never cover the surface area around trunk base. Better to err on the side of planting too high than too low. Water soil thoroughly. A final watering of B-vitamin solution will help to alleviate stress and encourage new root growth. For small plants water everyday until established; larger plants every two or three days should suffice. New signs of liko, new growth, is a key to a successful planting. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Showy

Flower Colors

  • Red
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

Flowers are usually yellow, or occasionally red.

In most parts of the Koʻolau Mountains M. macropus plants have yellow flowers. However, in a few areas of the mountain range there are also red flowered individuals. In the Waiʻanae Mountains, all of the flowering M. macropus plants so far have been red flowered. [Joel Lau, Botanist]

Blooming Period

  • Sporadic

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium

Additional Plant Texture Information

One of the characteristic features of this species are the consistently long petioles, the stem portion between a branch and a leaf, which are 1/3 to 1/2 as long as the leaf (15-30 mm). In other Metrosideros species the petiole is shorter, with only M. waialealae (10-20[-30] mm) coming a close second.

However, the leaf width is 3/4 as wide as long, widest of all the native ʻōhiʻa, earning it the species name macropus meaning "big foot." Incidentally, kangaroos go by the Latin genus name Macropus, which really says it all!

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Whitefly, aphids, mealybugs, Chinese rose beetles, scales, and ants can be problematic.

Black twig borer can be a serious problem. Cut off infected material well below the dead area, wrap securely in a plastic bag and dispose of or completely destroy right away.

Though unknown if it has attacked this particular species, other ʻōhiʻa are susceptible to attacks by the bright yellow ohia rust (Puccinia psidii) especially in wet environments or during the rainy season. This aggressive rust can be a serious problem if not taken care of in a timely manner. At the first sign of ʻōhiʻa rust, infected material can be carefully trimmed off, bagged securely, and disposed of. An untested suggestion is to put cut pieces in a bottle with a small amount of alcohol before disposing. Then, the plant and any others, including relatives (Eugenia spp., Syzygium spp.), in the area should be treated with a fungicide immediately. [2]

Never add trimmings damaged by ʻōhiʻa rust or black twig borer to a compost pile. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Growth Requirements

Water Requirements

  • Dry
  • Moist

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Tolerances

  • Wind

Soils

  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 2000 to 2999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 3000 to 3999, Greater than 100 (Wet)

Habitat

  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

This ʻōhiʻa (M. macropus) is endemic to Oʻahu in shrubland, mesic to wet forests in the both the Koʻolau and Waiʻanae mountains. [3, Joel Lau (Botanist)]

Metrosideros macropus is endemic to the two mountain ranges on O`ahu, the Wai`anae Mountains on the western side of the island and the Ko`olau Mountains on the eastern side. It is widespread in the Koʻolau Mountains. In the Waiʻanae Mountains its occurrence is very limited, and it is known there only from the northern part of the mountain range on northwestern side of Kaʻala and in the Kalena area, and from the southern end of the mountain range in the Palikea area. M. macropus is fairly rare overall. [Joel Lau, Botanist]

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

ʻŌhiʻa (Metrosideros spp.) belong to the Myrtle family or Myrtaceae with a current figure at over 5,650 species. [5]

Other non-native relatives, many naturalized in Hawaii, are numerous and include myrtle, tea tree, strawberry guava or waiawī ʻulaʻula, pineapple guava or kuawa, allspice, eucalyptus, melaleuca or paper bark, bottlebrush (Callistemon), and Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora)--to name a few. Some of these have become seriously invasives displacing large tracts of native forests with a monoscape of a single species. An extreme example of this is the highly invasive strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum) where little vegetation can grow beneath its dense canopy.

Native Metrosideros include five endemic species: Lehua ʻāhihi or ʻāhihi (M. tremuloides), lehua papa (M. rugosa), and three known by the name ʻōhiʻa (M. polymorpha and M. waialealae).

Other native Myrtaceae members include the indigenous Beach cherry or nīoi (Eugenia reinwardtiana), and two endemics: the endangered Koʻolau eugenia or nīoi (Eugenia koolauensis), and the fairly common ʻŌhiʻa hā (Syzygium sandwicensis).

Etymology

The generic name Metrosideros is derived from the Greek metra, heartwood, and sideron, iron, referring to the very hard wood of these plants.

The specific epithet macropus literally means big foot, in reference to the large leaves and long petioles.

Background Information

This ʻōhiʻa (M. macropus) differs from other species by long-persistent vegetative bracts known as attenuate scales and by long leaf petioles and leaf blades.

While the flowers are usually yellow, they also can occasionally be red-flowered.

Early Hawaiian Use

The hard wood was used for kapa beaters, musical instruments, gunwales and interior framework for canoes. [1]

Lei:

The flowers are used in lei making. [1]

Additional References

[1] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, pages 50, 63, 77, 80.

[2] "Hawaii Forest Disease and Pests" http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/forestry/disease/index.html [Accessed 2/4/11; updated on 4/28/10]

[3] http://www.hbws.org/cssweb/display.cfm?sid=2017 [Accessed on 2/9/11]

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