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Chrysodracon auwahiensis

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Chrysodracon

Species

auwahiensis

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hala pepe
  • Leʻie

Hawaiian Names

  • Hala pepe
  • Leie

Common Names

  • Maui hala pepe

Synonyms

  • Dracaena auwahiensis
  • Pleomele auwahiensis
  • Pleomele hawaiiensis var. mauiensis
  • Pleomele rockii

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30

Mature Size, Width

A columnar plant. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

Hala pepe are generally slow growing, but well worth the effort.

This species, C. auwahiensis is a mid to low elevation, but not coastal, plant. Specimen plants though slow growing when young, will reach heights to 25 feet. [Native Nursery, LLC]

This hala pepe (C. auwahiensis) appears to be one of the easiest and rewarding of the native Chrysodracon spp. to grow and establish at low elevations (c.300 ft.) with very little extra care or watering required. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Showy

Flower Colors

  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

The clusters of flowers are greenish-yellow, abundant and hang from panicles.

Blooming Period

  • June
  • July

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Hala pepe will flower after maturity (5 yrs.).

The berries are red and will hang on the plant for a month or two. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Plant has long slender leaves that range between 6 and 14 inches long.

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Hala pepe is prone to scale and root chewing arthropods attack young plants. Corn worms attack roots. Also root rot and Cyrcospora fungal crown rot. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

Ferilizers can be used in light amounts. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC] Use caution not to over fertilize hala pepe.

Pruning Information

None necessary, except to remove dead lower leaves and spent fruit stems (panicles).

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Hala pepe require low water needs. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Tolerances

  • Drought

Soils

  • Cinder

Limitations

Do not overwater this plant. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Molokaʻi
  • Maui

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)
  • 4000 to 4999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 4000 to 4999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)

Additional Habitat Information

This beautiful hala pepe is from central Molokaʻi and leeward Maui in remnant dry and sometimes mesic forests from around 2,000 to about 4,000 feet.

This is the only Chrysodracon spp. known to occur on more than one island.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

The endemic genus Chrysodracon has been placed in the family Asparagaceae. [5]

Etymology

The former generic name Pleomele is derived from the Greek pleon, many, and melon, apple, in reference to the large inflorescence that produce many fruits.

The current generic name Chrysodracon is from the Greek Chrsyo, golden, and dracon, dragon, referring to the unique yellow (golden) flowers of this genus; other dracaena have white, green and/or purple tepals (flowers). [5]

The specific epithet auwahiensis refers to Auwahi, Maui, a remnant native dry forest set aside to preserve native flora of Maui. This hala pepe is among numerous native plants, many endangered, found there.

Hawaiian Names:

The Hawaiian name hala pepe (pēpē means baby) apparently meaning "baby hala," is most likely named for its likeness to hala. [1]

Halapepe, as one word, has at times been used for this species, whereas it is generally referred to as hala pepe, a two word name. [4]

Background Information

There are six endemic species of hala pepe (Chrysodracon spp.). Some of the most distinctive features among the Hawaiian species of hala pepe are found in leaf length, width and shape, and in the characteristic perianth, the portion of the flower that has petals and sepals (tepals). [2]

Early Hawaiian Use

Medicinal:

Early Hawaiians used the leaves in bathing and steam baths for chills (liʻa), headaches, fever, and thought to stop burning temperature or sensation. [3]

Religion:

The soft whitish to reddish wood was used by early Hawaiians to make idols (kiʻi) and to decorate altars.

Modern Use

Leaves and flowers are used in lei making today.

Additional References

[1] "Endangered Plants and Threatened Ecosystems on the Island of Hawaiʻi" by J. Juvik, J. DeLay, M. Merlin, M. Castillo, L. Perry, K. Kinney, page 30.

[2] "Monograph of the Hawaiian Species of Pleomele (Liliaceae)," by Harold St. John, pages 171-189.

[3] "Native Hawaiian Medicine--Volume III" by The Rev. Kaluna M. Kaʻaiakamanu, pages 47-48.

[4] Hawaiian Dictionaries online http://www.wehewehe.org [11/16/11]

[5] "Phylogenetic Relationships among Dracaenoid Genera (Asparagaceae: Nolinoideae) Inferred from Chloroplast DNA Loci" by Pei Luen-Lu and Clifford W. Morden, pages 91, 101.

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