Chrysodracon fernaldii

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Chrysodracon

Species

fernaldii

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hala pepe
  • Leʻie

Hawaiian Names

  • Hala pepe
  • Leie

Common Names

  • Lānaʻi hala pepe

Synonyms

  • Dracaena fernaldii
  • Pleomele fernaldii
  • Pleomele lanaiensis

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

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

Though this hala pepe is currently rare in landscapes, it has the potential to become a beautiful native plant replacing he much used money tree (Dracaena marginata) seen in Hawaiian landscapes today.

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Showy

Flower Colors

  • Green
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

Flowers of Chrysodracon fernaldii are yellowish-green or greenish-yellow. It seems this species most resembles C. aurea and C. forbesii and was erroneously attributed to them by early botanists. Petals are slight to fully re-curved (folded back), unlike some other species such as C. aurea, C. forbesii and C. halapepe, which are slightly or not at all re-curved. [1]

Fruits (berries) are bright red and roundish to two- or three-lobed. [1]

Blooming Period

  • Spring

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Flowering spring; fruiting in summmer.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green
  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Leaves are glabrous (without hairs).

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Too much much water can cause fungal rot and kill the plant. It needs dry conditions to avoid rot. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Growth Requirements

Pruning Information

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

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

This hala pepe does best with waterings when dry.

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

In its natural habitat the Lānaʻi hala pepe (C. fernaldii) can be found in bright light to full sun conditions. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Tolerances

  • Drought

Soils

  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Lānaʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Additional Habitat Information

This distinct hala pepe is endemic to Lānaʻi and found in remnant dry forests and on rather steep slopes [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi] from about 1600 to over 22,650 feet. [1]

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

The endemic genus Chrysodracon has been recently placed in the family Asparagaceae. [7]

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). [7]

The specific epithet fernaldii was named by Harold St. John, professor of botany at University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa, in honor of his principal botany teacher, Merritt L. Fernald (1873-1950). [1]

Hawaiian Names:

The Hawaiian name hala pepe (pēpē means baby) apparently meaning "baby hala," is most likely named for its likeness to hala. [2]

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.[6]

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). [3]

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. [5]

Religion:

The soft wood was used by early Hawaiians to make idols and to decorate altars.

Modern Use

Leaves and flowers are used in lei making today.

Additional References

[1] "Pleomele fernaldii (Liliaceae), A New Species from the Hawaiian Islands," by Harold St. John, pages 39-42, and Plate III.

[2] "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.

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

[4] "The Strory of Lānaʻi" by George C. Munro, pages

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

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

[7] "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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