Pittosporum glabrum

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hāʻawa
  • Hōʻawa
  • Papahekili

Hawaiian Names

  • Haawa
  • Hoawa
  • Papahekili

Common Names

  • Koʻolau Range cheesewood


  • Pittosporum acuminatum
  • Pittosporum dolosum
  • Pittosporum glomeratum
  • Pittosporum helleri
  • Pittosporum hillebrandii
  • Pittosporum insigne
  • Pittosporum kahananum
  • Pittosporum spathulatum
  • Pittosporum sulcatum
  • Pittosporum terminalioides var. glabrum

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Shrub
  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30

Mature Size, Width

Over 10 feet wide.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Hedges
  • Screening

Additional Landscape Use Information

Many hōʻawa have beautiful tomentose (fuzzy) or golden leaves, clusters of white to cream flowers, and fascinating fruits that resemble walnuts. The shrubs or small trees are an attractive addition to a landscape as an accent or focal plant can be used to replace introduced pittosporums.

This hōʻawa (Pittosporum glabrum) can easily be grown at low near sea elevations successfully. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers
  • Fruits
  • Leaves

Additional Fragrance Information

The leaves and fruits have a characteristic pittosporum pungent smell that appeal to some. Varied descriptions of the fragrance are peppery, eucalytus-like, and even like brown sugar!

The flowers are sweet, but weakly scented at night.

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Cream
  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

The clusters of whitish flowers appear along the branches and terminal ends of the branches, and often not visible because of the leaves.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Upper and lower surfaces of mature leaves of this hōʻawa are glabrous (without hairs) as the species name glabrum implies, but are sparsely to heavily covered with brown fuzz (tomentose) on younger leaves and branches. Plants have leathery leaves that range between 1 and 10 inches long.

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Ants, mealybugs, aphids, scales, red spider mites

leaf Growth Requirements

Pruning Information

The odd protruding branch may need to be cut back for landscape appearances but otherwise no need of pruning.

Water Requirements

  • Moist

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Spacing Information

If planting more than one shrub, space at 10 or more feet apart to allow this hōʻawa to grow to its full potential.


  • Drought
  • Wind


  • Cinder
  • Organic


When outplanting hōʻawa (Pittosporum spp.), try to disturb roots as little as possible. [Leland Miyano, Landscape Architect, Artist]

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 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

This species is found in mesic to wet forests and on margins of bogs from 785 to about 6,465 feet.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

There are about 150 species of Pittosporum throughout Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and on a number of Pacific Islands, including the Hawaiian Islands with eleven endemic species.


The generic name Pittosporum is derived from the Greek pittos, pitch, and sporos, seed, in reference to the film of viscid resin covering the black seeds.

The specific name glabrum is derived from the Latin glabrous, without hairs, in reference the the leaves of this species generally without fuzz or small hairs.

Background Information

Of the native pittosporums, or hōʻawa, this species (P. glabrum) is the most common and widespread in the Hawaiian Islands.

Early Hawaiian Use


The wood was used to make gunwales for canoes. [1]


The outer layer of the fruit valves of hōʻawa (Pittosporum spp.) were used. They were pounded and used externally on sores. [2]

Additional References

[1] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, pages 50, 324.

[2] "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, page 382.



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