Pittosporum hosmeri

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • ʻAʻawa
  • ʻAʻawa hua kukui
  • Hōʻawa
  • Hāʻawa

Hawaiian Names

  • Aawa
  • Aawa hua kukui
  • Haawa
  • Hoawa

Common Names

  • Kona cheesewood
  • Kona hoawa


  • Pittosporum amplectens

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Shrub
  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

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

Mature Size, Width

The plant is about 12 feet in width.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Hedges
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

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.

Although a slow growing hōʻawa, this species (Pittosporum hosmeri) is one of the easier and more popular ones to grow and care for in landscapes because it appears to readily adapt to even low altitudes.

Source of Fragrance

  • Flowers
  • Fruits
  • Leaves

Additional Fragrance Information

Leaves and fruit has a characteristic pittosporum scent described as resinous or peppery.

This hōʻawa has subtly sweet fragrant flowers at night.

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Cream
  • White
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

The small tubular flowers are whitish to cream in color.

Blooming Period

  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Fruits ripen in the winter months. The flowers are fragrant at night. [2]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Medium

Additional Plant Texture Information

The slender leaves are 2 to 10 inches long and tufted near branch tips. The leaf margins curl under and can be either glabrous (smooth) or rusty red tomentose (fuzzy).

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

New growth has dense light yellow to reddish brown hairs.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Red mites, aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects occasionally infest older hōʻawa plants. Watch for sooty mold on plants not yet planted in ground. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]

leaf Growth Requirements


Hōʻawa can be fertilized with 8-8-8 every four to six months when young.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

When well established, water twice a month or more during dry months.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Plant does best in full sun.


  • Wind


  • Cinder
  • Organic


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

This species will tolerant light winds but not drought or salt spray. [2]

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 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)


  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

This species of hōʻawa is found primarily on leeward Hawaiʻi Island, from the Kohala Mountains south to the Kaʻū District in mesic to wet forests from about 1,250 to over 3,500 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 epithet hosmeri is named in honor of Ralph Sheldon Hosmer (1874-1963), Hawaiʻi's first territorial forester. Hosmer's Grove, Maui is one of Hosmer's forestry experimental using non-native species he planted in 1910. Unfortunately, some of the species are now invasive on Maui, such as the Mexican weeping pine, Monterrey pine, and eucalyptus, displacing the native plants. [4]

Background Information

The Hawaiian crow, or ʻalalā, (Corvus tropicus) fed on this hōʻawa, attracted by the bright orange inside color of the ripe fruit capsules and dark seeds and thus ensuring the spread of the plants. However, ʻalalā are now extremely rare and populations of hōʻawa in the birds former range are becoming very scarce as a result. This is a classic example of how interdependent native Hawaiian plants and animals are in the natural ecosystem. [5]

Sometimes this species is called the "Hawaiian magnolia" due to the tan fur underneath the leaves. [3]

Early Hawaiian Use


The early Hawaiians used the wood to make gunwales for canoes. [1]


The outer layer of the fruit valves were used. They were pounded and used externally on sores. [5]

Modern Use

 Once more commonly used on the mainland U.S. as an ornamental shrub, this hōʻawa is seen more in landscapes in Hawaiʻi nowadays. [5]

Additional References

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

[2] "Small Trees for Tropical Landscape" by Fred D. Rauch & Paul R. Weissich, page 93.

[3] "Amy Greenwell Garden Ethnobotanical Guide to Native Hawaiian Plants & Polynesian Introduced Plants" by Noa Kekuewa Lincoln, page 102.

[4] [Accessed 12/16/10]

[5] "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, pages 382-383.



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