Ochrosia haleakalae

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hōlei

Hawaiian Names

  • Holei

Common Names

  • Island yellowwood


  • Ochrosia hamakuaensis

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

At Risk

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Medium, 6 to 10
  • Shrub, Tall, Greater than 10
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30

Mature Size, Width

8 foot spread. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

A great medium sized shrub/tree for mid or low elevations, but not coastal. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers

Additional Fragrance Information

The small flowers have a fragrance similar to plumeria. [Forest & Kim Starr, United States Geological Survey-Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

Hōlei flowers are small but easily seen.

Blooming Period

  • Summer
  • Fall

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Blooms late summer/fall. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves range between 1 and 7 inches long.

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

A whitish midrib appears on each leaf of hōlei.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Root rot, sooty mold. Control ants to decrease pests. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

leaf Growth Requirements


Low fertilizer is good occasionally. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

Pruning Information

Hōlei can be pruned though usually not needed. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Medium to low water needs. Drought tolerant after established. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun


  • Drought


  • Cinder

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 3000 to 3999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)

Additional Habitat Information

This rare species of hōlei is naturally found in dry and mesic forests and often on lava scattered on East Maui and Hawaiʻi from about 2,300 to over 3,900 feet.

Hōlei is also cultivated at Kīpukapuaulu, Kīlauea, Hawaiʻi.

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.

The specific name haleakalae refers Haleakalā, Maui, part of the range of this species.

Early Hawaiian Use

Early Hawaiians had a variety of uses for hōlei, including using the wood for gunwales (moʻo) on canoes and scraping boards for olonā. [1,3]


The bark of the stems and roots produced a yellow dye for kapa (tapa). [1] Pukui and Elbert (1986) stated that kapa dyed with hōlei or the act of dyeing kapa with it are also known as hōlei. Kamakau (1976) notes two types of kapa dyed with hōlei: 1) a yellow kapa named hōlei for the tree, "colored by beating in the juice of the bark of the hōlei" and 2) a kapa named wailiʻiliʻi with a pattern of thick yellow stripes dyed with hōlei. [3]


The nuts were used as food. [2]


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. [2]

Modern Use

Flowers can be used for leis. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

Small bark pieces of hōlei soaked in just boiled water yielded a bright yellow dye which took well to cotton cloth (Cathy Davenport and ACM unpublished). [3]

Additional References

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

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

[3] "Auwahi: Ethnobotany of a Hawaiian Dryland Forest" by A.C. Medeiros, C.F. Davenport & C.G. Chimera, page 25.


Ochrosia haleakalae

Ochrosia kauaiensis

leafMore Links

Plant Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Back to Plant List

Plant List

Other Nursery Profiles for Ochrosia haleakalae