Ochrosia compta

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hōlei

Hawaiian Names

  • Holei


  • Bleekeria compta
  • Ochrosia forbesii
  • Ochrosia holei
  • Ochrosia kondoi
  • Ochrosia lamoureuxii
  • Ochrosia microcalyx

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

At Risk

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Dwarf, Less than 15
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30
  • Tree, Medium, 30 to 50

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

Harold St. John (1892-1991), professor of botany at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, notes that "the Hawaiian Ochrosia species are to found in the lower, drier forests." [3]

Hōlei are rather easy to grow, and at least this species, does very well in the low dry suburban areas on Oʻahu. Availability, not cultivation, is likely the determing factor for this plant not seen more in the landscape.

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers

Additional Fragrance Information

The scent is similar a mild plumeria. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

About thirty small white flowers are produced a few at a time on an inflorescence. [3]

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Hōlei seem to bloom continously over a long period of time with each flower lasting a day. Only a single  flower at the terminal end will produce yellow to dark purple smooth drupes (fruits). [3]

Regarding the fruits, Hawaiʻi Botanist Joel Lau notes: "In this part of Mākua most of the Ochrosia compta trees have lanceoloid fruits; some have ovoid fruits. These fruits would turn yellow if they were allowed to ripen."  He also notes that in this same area was a plant with "reddish ovoid fruits."

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

The smooth leaves are viened and have a whitish rib down the center.

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Too much water may be cause root rot and black sooty mold.

leaf Growth Requirements


Hōlei benefit from monthly foliar feeding, especially with kelp or fish emulsion.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun


  • Drought


  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Maui

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)


  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

This species of hōlei (Ochrosia compta) is found scattered in gulches and ridges in remnant dry to mesic forest from 985 to 2855 feet on Oʻahu (Koʻolau and Waiʻanae Mts.) and Pelekunu Trail, Wailau Valley, and Kahanui, Molokaʻi. It has been recently found on West Maui.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

The four endemic species of Hōlei (Ochrosia spp.) are in the same family (Apocynaceae) as the non-native plumeria.

Other natve Hawaiian family members include maile (Alyxia stellata), two species of kaulu (Pteralyxia spp.), and hao (Rauvolfia sandwicensis).


The generic name Ochrosia is derived from the Greek ochros, pale yellow, in reference to the color of the fruit.

Latin specific name compta meaning elegant.

Early Hawaiian Use


The wood was used for gunwales on canoes. [2]


The bark of the stems and roots produced a yellow dye for kapa (tapa). [2]


The nuts were used as food. [1]


An infusion of bark and leaves were for steam in a sweat bath. The nuts with other plants were chewed and given to infants for general debility. [1]

Additional References

[1] "Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value," by D.M. Kaaiakamanu & J.K. Akina, page 44.

[2] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, pages 50, 65.

[3] "Ochrosia (Apocynaceae) of the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaiian Plant Studies 60" by Harold St. John, pages 202, 208, 217.

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