Osteomeles anthyllidifolia

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Eluehe
  • Uʻulei
  • ʻŪlei

Hawaiian Names

  • Eluehe
  • Ulei
  • Uulei

Common Names

  • Hawaiian hawthorn
  • Hawaiian rose


  • Pyrus anthyllidifolia

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Sprawling Shrub
  • Shrub

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, Small, 15 to 30

Mature Size, Width

ʻŪlei can grow from a prostrate ground cover to an upright shrub-like tree with a spread of 4 to 10 feet.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Erosion Control
  • Ground Cover
  • Hedges
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant
  • Trellis or Fence Climber

Additional Landscape Use Information

This is a hardy xeric plant requiring little or no maintenance once established. But in many landscapes ʻūlei is grown far too wet, which produces luxuriant growth but little or no flowers. Cut back on watering to initiate flowering. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Although these plants can be grown in containers, they does best when planted in the ground.

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers

Additional Fragrance Information

The white flowers are slightly fragrant, reminiscent of rose with a hint of mountain apple (ʻōhiʻa ʻai). [Shari Tamashiro, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • White

Blooming Period

  • Spring
  • Winter

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

ʻŪlei can be reluctant to bloom if given too much water. To initiate blooming grow as a xeric plant and provide water when necessary and not continually throughout the year. The fruits are white to whitish with lavender flush. They contain very hard seeds. The fruits are edible but somewhat bland-tasting.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine
  • Medium

Additional Plant Texture Information

Each leaflet ranges in size from under an inch to nearly 3 inches on a compound leaf arrangement that is 9 to 20 inches long.

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

ʻŪlei leaflets have an upper surface that is glossy and leathery.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

ʻUlei is prone to ants, scale, mealy bugs and aphids.

leaf Growth Requirements


ʻŪlei do not appear to be heavy feeders and will thrive very well with little additional fertilizers in good soil.

However, if additional fertilizer is required, an application of a balanced slow release fertilizer with minor elements every 6 months should suffice. Once a month apply foliar feed with a kelp or fish emulsion, or a water-soluble fertilizer with a dilution of one-half to one-third of recommended strength may also be applied. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Pruning Information

Trim ʻūlei to encourage branching, reduce size or to maintain its shape, but avoid cutting old growth. It can also be trimmed to form topiary arrangements.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Water plants until established and then water only in severe drought periods.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Prefers full sun.

Spacing Information

ʻŪlei should be spaced at least 3 to 5 feet apart.


  • Drought
  • Wind
  • Salt Spray
  • Heat


  • Clay
  • Cinder
  • Coral


Salt tolerances are moderate (coastal varieties).

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)
  • Less than 150, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 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)
  • 3000 to 3999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 4000 to 4999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 4000 to 4999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)

Additional Habitat Information

ʻŪlei is indigenous and also occurring in the Cook Islands, Tonga, Rarotonga, Rapa Iti in the Austral Islands, and a single remaining plant on Pitcairn Island. [4]

These plants are known to grow on coastal cliffs, open lava fields, dry shrub land and in dry to mesic forests from near sea level to over 7,600 feet.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

ʻŪlei belong to the very large Rose family (Rosaceae) of nearly 3,000 species.

Though ʻūlei is indigenous, there are three other endemic members: Hawaiian strawberry or ʻōhelo papa (Fragaria chiloensis subsp. sandwicensis), and two species Hawaiian raspberries or ʻākala (Rubus hawaiensis & R. macraei). All have edible fruit, but range from bland to bitter to sweet.


The generic name Osteomeles comes from the Greek osteon, bone, and melon, apple, in reference to the pome-type fruit with its hard endocarps (seed shell).

The specific epithet anthyllidifolia literally means "with Anthyllis-like leaves." Anthyllis is a genus of plants in the Fabaceae or Pea family. [8]

Hawaiian Names:

Eluehe is a Molokaʻi name for this plant.

Background Information

ʻŪlei are one of the few native Hawaiian plants that can often survive fires and resprout from stem bases. [12]

Early Hawaiian Use

The early Hawaiian had a number of uses for ʻūlei, including fashioning the very hard reddish brown wood into digging sticks (ʻōʻō), long spears for catching octopus, kapa beaters, ʻūkēkē boards (musical instrument), back scratchers, carrying poles (ʻauamo) for water and food. [2,10]


The white fruit produced a lavender to purple dye for kapa (tapa). [1,11]


The strong flexible branches were looped to make round fish nets. [12] 


The small sweet fruits were eaten and is similar to the taste of rose petals. [3,10]

Games & Sports:

ʻŪlei wood was fashioned into spears for the games of spear throwing (ʻōʻō ihe) and spear fencing (kākā lāʻau). [1,9,11] Short tapered sticks were used to play the game of paheʻe.


The flowers and fruit of ʻūlei were used in lei making. [5]


Early Hawaiians used the seeds and buds as a laxative for babies. [1,6] The leaves, root bark and salt were pounded together and the liquid used for deep cuts. [6]

Modern Use

Flowers and flowers of ʻūlei are still used in lei making [7] and the fruits are still eaten today as they were in the times of the early Hawaiians. [13]

Additional References

[1] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, pages 25, 45, 67, 80, 85, 95.
[2] "Arts and Crafts of Hawaii" by Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter H. Buck), page 14.

[3] "Native Planters in Old Hawaii--Their Life, Lore, & Environment" by E. S. Handy and Elizabeth Green Handy, page 235.

[4] "A Conservation Appraisal of the Rare and Endemic Vascular Plants of Pitcairn Island" by Naomi Kingston and Steve Waldren, page 795.

[5] "Nā Lei Makamae--The Treasured Lei" by Marie A. McDonald & Paul R. Weissich, page 147.

[6] "Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value," by D.M. Kaaiakamanu & J.K. Akina, page 38.

[7] "Growing Plants for Hawaiian Lei," by CTAHR, pages 48, 49.

[8] "The Names of Plants" by David Gledhill, page 51.

[9] "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, page 387.

[10] "Resource Units in Hawaiian Culture" by Donald D. Kilolani Mitchell, pages 112, 129.

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

[12] "Hawai'i's Plants and Animals--Biological Sketches of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park" by Charles P. Stone & Linda W. Pratt, page 101.

[13] "An Edible Hawaiian Garden" by Chuck Chimera in "Hawaii Landscape" May/June 2013, page 27.



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