Nestegis sandwicensis

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Olopua
  • Pua
  • Ulupua

Hawaiian Names

  • Olopua
  • Pua
  • Ulupua

Common Names

  • Hawaiian olive
  • Hawaiʻi olive


  • Gymnelaea sandwicensis
  • Olea sandwicensis
  • Osmanthus sandwicensis

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Medium, 30 to 50
  • Tree, Large, Greater than 50

Mature Size, Width

Olopua is known to have a spread of 25 to 30 feet or more.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Provides Shade
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

Another beautiful native tree but rarely seen in the landscape.

Additional Fragrance Information

It would appear that olopua would produce some type of fragrance as a white-flowering species, but after numerous inquiries, no one has yet responded to any type of noticeable scents. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • White
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

Olopua usually has seven to eleven small pale yellow or white flowers. The flowers have been given the Hawaiian name of nonohina.

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Olopua produce dark purple or bluish-black mature fruits (drupes) that resemble Kalamata olives, but are not edible.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium
  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

The crinkly leathery leaves of olopua are 3 to 10 inches long.

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green
  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

The upper surface of the leaves are glossy with pale ribs and the lower surface even paler, often the distinctive identifying features of olopua when it is not blooming or bearing fruit.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Olopua is prone to ants, scale, mealy bugs and thrips.

leaf Growth Requirements


For young olopua saplings, an application of a balanced slow release fertilizer with minor elements every six months. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

These xeric trees can tolerate both dry and moist conditions.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Olopua prefer full sun.


  • Drought
  • Wind


  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • 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)

Additional Habitat Information

Olopua is found naturally in dry to mesic forests from about 100 to 4,265 feet.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Olopua belong to the Oleaceae or Olive family which include olives (Olea spp.), of course, but also forsythia, ash, privet, jasmine, and pikake.

The five species of Nestegis are found in New Zealand, neighboring Lord Howe Island, and the Hawaiian Islands. [1]



The generic name Nestegis is possibly derived from the Greek ne, not, and stegos, cover, perhaps in reference to the lack of a collora in the type species, Nestegis elliptica.

The species name sandwicensis 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.

Background Information

The beautiful heartwood is light reddish to yellowish brown with black streaks and sometimes used in wooodworking.

Early Hawaiian Use

The early Hawaiians had a number of uses for the very durable hard wood. Though it was difficult to work with and they fashioned spears (ihe), digging sticks (ʻōʻō), adze handles (ʻau koʻi), daggers for warfare (pāhoa), and rasps for making fish hooks. The strong wood was also used for posts, rafters and thatching posts or purlins in house (hale) construction. [2,4,5,6]


Olopua was the preferred firewood, as it burned with a hot flame even when green. [5]

Modern Use

Apparently rarely acquired and used in wood working to make beautiful bowls. [3]

Additional References

[1] "Hawaiʻi's Native Plants" by Dr. Bruce Bohm, page 103.
[2] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 56.

[3] [accessed 12/9/09]

[4] "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, page 677.

[5] "Auwahi: Ethnobotany of a Hawaiian Dryland Forest" by A.C. Medeiros, C.F. Davenport & C.G. Chimera, page 15.

[6] "Lāʻau Hawaiʻi: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants" by Isabella Aiona Abbott, pages 68, 88.



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