Myoporum sandwicense

leaf Main Plant Information






  • lanaiense
  • sandwicense

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Naeo
  • Naieo
  • Naio

Hawaiian Names

  • Naeo
  • Naieo
  • Naio

Common Names

  • Bastard sandalwood
  • False sandalwood


  • Myoporum degeneri
  • Myoporum fauriei
  • Myoporum lanaiense
  • Myoporum st-johnii
  • Polycoelium sandwicense

Names with Unknown Sources

  • Naio papa

Did You Know…?

When ʻiliahi or sandalwood was being logged off in great quantities during the Sandalwood Trade, naio (Myoporum spp.) was trying to be passed off as genuine sandalwood with little success. It did not fool many people and was soon rejected by importers. Naio has thus acquired the pitiful nickname of "bastard sandalwood."

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Sprawling Shrub
  • Shrub
  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Dwarf, Less than 2
  • Shrub, Small, 2 to 6
  • Shrub, Medium, 6 to 10
  • Shrub, Tall, Greater than 10
  • Tree, Dwarf, Less than 15
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30
  • Tree, Medium, 30 to 50
  • Tree, Large, Greater than 50

Mature Size, Width

Varies greatly with each subspecies and form.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Ground Cover
  • Hedges
  • Screening

Additional Landscape Use Information

Naio is a fast to medium growing landscape shrub or tree. It can grow to 5-6 feet in a few years. Little care is required after the plant is established.

Naio can be used to replace the extremely poisonous oleander which has a similar appearance but is much safer to grow in the landscape.

The prostrate form called "naio papa" can be used as a wonderful and thick groundcover. As with most other naio forms they will remain vibrant in xeric or drought tolerant conditions.

An excellent choice for dry, hot lowland areas. Poor drainage and damp soil will eventually kill these plants, which favor arid conditions. Naio will grow well in cloudy, rainy, mauka areas if ample sun and drainage is provided. [9]

How to Plant a Native Hawaiian Garden notes that the "naio from Manini Gulch, Oʻahu, is particularly attractive and long-lasting in cultivation." [9]

Companion Plants:

Because the shade cast is usually not very dense, naio can be planted close to other plants. [9] ʻIlima, pāʻūohiʻiaka or ʻākia can be grown as groundcovers underneath shrub or tree forms.

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers
  • Wood

Additional Fragrance Information

Some naio flowers have a spicy sandalwood-like fragrance [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]. Others describe a honey-like smell. The fragrance of the dead wood is like lemon peel li hing mui [Forest & Kim Starr, United States Geological Survey-Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Light Purple
  • Pink
  • Purple
  • White
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

Naio have small whitish to purplish pink flowers with or without a yellow or purple nectar ring.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Naio have a nearly constant flowering period followed by white, cream, light pink, rose, or brownish colored fruits when fresh, turning golden to dark brown when dried.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine
  • Medium
  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Depending on the variety and origin of naio, the leaves range from 1 1/2 to 9 inches long.

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Naio leaves are generally fleshy.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Plants are prone to ants, scale, mealy bugs, spider mites and aphids.

Black sooty mold may result from overwatering, especially on coastal varieties. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Since December 2008, naio thrips (Klambothrips myopori) have been noticed on Hawaiʻi Island from Kona Palisaides through Waikoloa and up to Waimea. This non-native pest, from Tasmania, severely distorts naio leaves and tips of new growth (terminal growth) with unsightly galling, resembling the leaf and stem "bubbling" seen on hybrid Chinese red hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) and wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis). Naio thrips have been found on both prostrate naio or naio papa and upright forms, but is expected to affect many Myoporum species. In severe cases, the thrips can destroy the plants. So far it seems to be localized. [3,7]

Please report any sightings of this pest to the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture (HDOA) or the Department of Land and Resources (DLNR). For more information and photos consult the Reference section at the bottom of this page. [5]

leaf Growth Requirements


Young or low growing naio appreciate an application of a balanced slow release fertilize with minor elements every 6 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

Naio prunes well and can be done to maintain a desired shape. A prostrate form, called "naio papa," can be maintained to make an excellent groundcover.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

These hardy shrubs can tolerate both dry and moist conditions. When plants are well established, water only in times of prolonged drought. Naio in general are xeric plants and too much water cause black sooty mold.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Additional Lighting Information

Naio requires full sun and good drainage to succeed. [9]

Spacing Information

The shrubs should be spaced 3 to 6 ft. a part. "Naio papa" can be planted at 2 feet apart, giving them adequate space to grow and keep prostrate. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]


  • Drought
  • Wind
  • Salt Spray
  • Heat


  • Sand
  • Cinder
  • Organic
  • Coral


The "Salt Spray" tolerance and "Sand"-type soil (above) apply to coastal forms. Not known how upland varieties will respond to these same conditions.

Special Growing Needs


leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Niʻihau
  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • Less than 150, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • Less than 150, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 150 to 1000, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 2000 to 2999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 3000 to 3999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 3000 to 3999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 4000 to 4999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 4000 to 4999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 4000 to 4999, Greater than 100 (Wet)


  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

Found in a variety of habitats, naio grows in coastal habitats, lava fields, and mesic to wet forests from sea level to over 7,800 feet. Extinct on Kahoʻolawe. [4]

In subalpine habitat on Hawaiʻi Island, naio grows along with māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) to provide a unique habitat and part of the diet for an endangered honeycreeper, the palila (Loxioides bailleui), now found only on Mauna Kea.

The "naio papa" form is known only from Ka Lae (South Point), Hawaiʻi Island.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Naio (Myoporum spp.) belongs to the Figwort family or Scrophulariaceae with around 30 species in the Indo-Pacific region. [2] There are three reconized endemic species in the Hawaiian Islands: Myoporum sandwicense (found all the main islands)*, M. degeneri (dry forests from ʻUlupalakua to Kaupo Gap, E. Maui), and M. stellatum (ʻEwa Plain, Oʻahu). The last two are rare species. [4]

Myoporum sandwicense is further divided into two endemic subspecies: subsp. sandwicense (found on all main islands) and subsp. lanaiense (restricted nothern part of Lānaʻi in dry koaiʻa forests). [4]


* The populations of Myoporum outside of the Hawaiian Islands naturally found on Mangaia (Auʻau Enua) in the Cook Islands were formerly included with Myoporum sandwicense. These plants are now classified as a distinct species, Myoporum wilderi, locally called ngaio and restricted to Mangaia, but also is cultivated on Rarotonga by the indigenous people who use the flowers to scent coconut oil. [4]


The generic name Myoporum is derived from the Greek myo, close, and poros, pore in reference to the close appearance of the leaf glands of these plants.

The species name sandwicense refers to the "Sandwich Islands," as the Hawaiian Islands were once called, and named by James Cook on one of his voyages in the 1770s. James Cook named the islands after John Montagu (The fourth Earl of Sandwich) for supporting Cook's voyages.

Hawaiian Name:

Naio* appears to be most commonly used for this Myoporum species. This Hawaiian name is also used for the parasitic pinworm (Enterobius sp.), a type of seaweed, and an infererior taro left in the field after the crop is removed. [8]


* Naio is spelled with no diacritics.

Background Information

Naio are extremely variable plants from prostrate and shrub forms to fifty foot upland trees. Coastal varieties are usually shrublike, whereas some upland forms can be trees.

Early Hawaiian Use

Early Hawaiians used the yellowish wood of naio (ʻaʻaka). The larger branches and trunks for posts, rafters, frames, and thatching poles or purlins in homes (hale) and for netting needles or shuttles. [1,9]

Modern Use

Naio wood is still used today in wood craft. [6]

Additional References

[1] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, pages 35, 56.

[2] [Accessed 10/14/09]

[3] Naio Thrips, Department of Agriculture, New Pest Advisory, June 2009

[4] "Eremophila and Allied Genera: A Monograph of the Plant Family Myoporaceae," by R.J. Chinnock, pages 135-136, 141-145.

[5] "Hawaii Forest Disease and Pests" [Accessed 2/4/11; updated on 4/28/10]

[6] "Contemporary Woodworkers" by Tiffany DeEtte Shafto & Lynda McDaniel, page 208.

[7] "Naio Thrips Threatens Our Native Naio" by Cynthia King, in "Hawaii Landscape," February/March 2012, page 30.

[8] [Accessed 12/11/12]

[9] "How to Plant a Native Hawaiian Garden" by Kenneth M. Nagata, page "Naio."



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