Pipturus albidus

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Pipturus

Species

albidus

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Māmaki
  • Waimea

Hawaiian Names

  • Mamaki
  • Waimea

Common Names

  • Waimea pipturus

Synonyms

  • Boehmeria albida
  • Perlarius albidus
  • Pipturus brighamii
  • Pipturus eriocarpus
  • Pipturus gaudichaudianus
  • Pipturus hawaiiensis
  • Pipturus helleri
  • Pipturus oahuensis
  • Pipturus pachyphyllus
  • Pipturus pterocarpus
  • Pipturus rockii
  • Pipturus skottsbergii
  • Pipturus taitensis

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Shrub
  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Small, 2 to 6
  • Shrub, Medium, 6 to 10
  • Shrub, Tall, Greater than 10
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30

Mature Size, Width

Māmaki has a spread of 15 feet or more.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Hedges
  • Provides Shade
  • Screening

Additional Landscape Use Information

An excellent understory shrub for taller trees in shaded and part sun locations with moderate amounts of water. Red-veined varieties appear to handle full sun in open lowland landscapes than do green-leaved varieties. Māmaki is generally not suited for hot, dry coastal seetings. It does well in urban landscapes with some shading.

Māmaki will do well in containers in part shade and with applications of fertilizer at half strength. [5]

Source of Fragrance

  • No Fragrance

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Greenish-White

Additional Flower Color Information

Plant has tiny greenish-white flowers that cluster at the leaf axils.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

White fruits resembling small raspberries are produced along the branches. The fruits are edible but bland to subtly sweet. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium
  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Māmaki leaves can range from 2 to about 12 inches long, depending on the variety and/or the origin of the plants.

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green
  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Māmaki leaves are light to dark green to reddish with green, pink or red veins with lighter undersides which are sometimes almost white.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Plants are prone to ants, scale, mealy bugs, thrips and aphids. Chinese rose beetles, caterpillars and grasshoppers make holes in the leaves but usually do not affect the overall health of the plant if damage is minimal. Spittle bugs and aphids may attack new growth but are seldom a major problem. Fungal disease can attack and kill young plants.

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

Māmaki benefit from an application of a balanced slow release fertilize with minor elements every six months. Foliar feed monthly with kelp or fish emulsion, or a water-soluble fertilizer with a dilution of one-half to one-third of the recommended strength. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Pruning Information

Pinching the growing tips of māmaki regularly will encourage new growth. Plants prune well and can be done to keep leaves within reach for harvesting. Do not remove more than 1/4 of the leaves off the plant at a time.

Water Requirements

  • Moist

Additional Water Information

Māmaki require moist to wet conditions at the roots.

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Māmaki varieties with red coloring in the leaves do fine in full or partial sun locations. Green-leaved varieties will tolerate full sun when established, but prefer partial sun to shadier conditions. In shadier areas, the plants will look less stressed and the leaves tend to grow larger.

Spacing Information

Plants should be spaced 6 to 8 feet apart.

Tolerances

  • Waterlogged Soil

Soils

  • Clay
  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

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

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

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

Additional Habitat Information

These shrubs grow in mesic valleys and mesic to wet forests from near sea level to over 6,100 feet.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Māmaki (Pipturus spp.) are members of the Nettle Family (Urticaceae). But unlike its mainland relatives, the majority of the gentle native genera have no painful stinging hairs.*

Other native relatives include endemics such as ʻākōlea (Boehmeria grandis), Hawaiian stingingnettle (Hesperocnide sandwicensis), five Neraudia spp., olonā (Touchardia latifolia), two Urera spp., and the indigenous pilea or Pacific island clearweed (Pilea peploides).

_____

* The exception is the Hawaiian stingingnettle (Hesperocnide sandwicensis), a rare but sometimes locally common, annual apparently with quite painful stinging hairs. It is restricted to the subalpine woodlands or alpine areas from above 5800 to over 8500 feet on the plateau between Hualālai, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea on Hawaiʻi Island.

Etymology

The generic name Pipturus is derived from the Greek pipto, to fall, and oura, tail, in reference to the caducous stigma.

The specific epithet albidis is Latin for white.

Hawaiian Names:

The spellings Mamake and Māmake are incorrect. [Joel Lau, Botanist]

Waimea is a Kauaʻi name for this plant. The name is also shared by Perrottetia sandwicensis.

Background Information

Māmaki is one of the best native plants to attract the only two native butterflies Pulelehua Kamehameha or Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea) and Koa or Blackburn butterfly (Udara blackburni)--a good reason not to spray insecticides on the plants.

There is a related species sometimes called "green māmaki." This is ʻākōlea (Boehmeria grandis), and should not be confused with māmaki, which has different medicinal uses. [9]

Early Hawaiian Use

Early Hawaiians used māmaki wood to make clubs and kapa beaters (iʻe kuku). [6] The branches were used as "bait for cowries." [9]

Clothing:

The sap mixed with water was used to keep the kapa (tapa) wauke moist in preparation process. [1] But māmaki itself was an important source of for kapa. [7] Though the second best choice of kapa, it was more durable than wauke. [13] However, the kapa māmaki was durable only when dry. It tore like paper if washed or got wet, whereas wauke could be washed. [7,10,11,13]  The inner bark of māmaki was made into a brown colored kapa when wauke was not available. [1] Kapa māmaki was made in the same way as kapa wauke. [13] The kapa quality was said to be very good and fit for a king! [1] It has been noted that in a well-known Hawaiian collection, it is estimated that more than a third of the kapa samples were made from māmaki (Pipturus spp.) [9]

Māmaki for tapa was mostly made on the island of Hawaiʻi. On other islands, māmaki was usually mixed with wauke when used for kapa. [13]

ʻŌlapa bark and kūpaoa (Dubautia spp.) were used to scent māmaki kapa. [12]

Medicinal:

Women ate māmaki fruits and seeds during the later months of pregnancy. [1,6] The fruit was also used in healing sores and wounds. [4] Mothers gave the small white fruit to children as a mild laxative or to treat ʻea (thrush). [1,4,13] Seeds were given to infants and adults as a tonic for general debility of the body. [6,13]

The leaves and bark of two varieties, māmaki keʻokeʻo and māmaki ʻulaʻula, were consumed and recognized as "greatly desired by the Hawaiians." There were no medical complications, with "both of them a blessing for those who are weak and frail." [8]

Berries were also used to dress sores and wounds. [13]

Modern Use

Dried or fresh māmaki leaves are used to make a mild but invigorating and healthy tea and one few commercially available native herbs for consumption. The tea helps with listlessness. Māmaki leaves generally have a more pleasant aroma and taste than koʻokoʻolau. [2] The fresh or dried leaves for mamaki tea have been used to help with many internal disorders such as for the stomach, colon, bladder, liver, and bowels. [3]

Fruit is eaten as a laxative or for stomach, colon and digestive problems. [9]

Infused leaves can be used in treatment for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver problems, depression, bladder problems, bladder infections, and PMS. However, with some people māmaki can cause mild agitation or insomnia. [9]

Practioner David Bruce Leonard adds: "A remarkable friend, māmaki has a soothing effect on the nervous system in a similar way to jasmine tea. It works well for iritability or just to decompress after a day in Babylon." [9]

Additional References

[1] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 64.
[2] "Plants in Hawaiian Medicine" by Beatrice H. Krauss, pages 87, 88.
[3] "Hawaiian Healing Herbs" by Kalua Kaiahua, pages 15, 27.

[4] "Native Planters in Old Hawaii--Their Life, Lore, & Environment" by E. S. Handy and Elizabeth Green Handy, page 240.

[5] "Container Gardening in Hawaii" by Janice Crowl, page 51.

[6] "Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value," by D.M. Kaaiakamanu & J.K. Akina, page 71.

[7] "Pacific Tapa" by Roger Neich & Mick Pendergrast, page 91.

[8] "Native Hawaiian Medicine--Volume III" by The Rev. Kaluna M. Kaʻaiakamanu, page 73.

[9] "Medicine at Your Feet: Healing Plants of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume 1," by David Bruce Leonard, page 141-142, 143.

[10] "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, pages 318-319.

[11] "Hawai'i's Plants and Animals--Biological Sketches of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park" by Charles P. Stone & Linda W. Pratt, pages 250-251.

[12] "Lāʻau Hawaiʻi: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants" by Isabella Aiona Abbott, page 58.

[13] "Ethnobotany of Hawaii" by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 152.

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