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Chrysodracon forbesii

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Chrysodracon

Species

forbesii

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hala pepe
  • Leʻie

Hawaiian Names

  • Hala pepe
  • Leie

Common Names

  • Forbes' hala pepe

Synonyms

  • Pleomele forbesii

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Partially Woody / Shrub-like
  • Shrub
  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

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

Mature Size, Width

This hala pepe has a 15-foot spread.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Provides Shade
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

Hala pepe are generally slow growing, but well worth the effort. Hala pepe are fairly easy to grow and maintain and should be incorporated more frequently in the Hawaiian landscape. The trunk of this species will produce numerous branches as it matures.

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Showy

Flower Colors

  • Green
  • White
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

This hala pepe displays a beautiful spray of downward-hanging greenish-yellow flowers.

Blooming Period

  • Summer
  • Fall

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Following the blooming period, round dark brown to bright red juicy fruits (berries) are produced. [1]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

The thin strap-like leaves of this species are about 10 to 15 inches long.

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Hala pepe is prone to scale and root-chewing arthropods which attack young plants.

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

Use caution in not over fertilizing hala pepe. An application of a balanced slow release fertilizer with minor elements every six months is beneficial. 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

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

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Under cultivation, it does well in moist to dry conditions but does appreciate deep infrequent watering, especially if planted near or under dominant shrubs or trees. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Too much shade makes this hala pepe languish and is best grown in full sun.

Tolerances

  • Drought
  • Wind

Soils

  • Cinder
  • Organic

Limitations

Does not like constantly or prolonged wet soil and will succumb to rot. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)

Additional Habitat Information

This species is found in dry to mesic forests primarily in the Waiʻanae Mountains, but also in the north and south ends of the Koʻolau Mountains, Oʻahu from about 785 to about 2,400 feet.

Botanist William R. Hatheway noted in 1952 that this species was "one of the most common and striking of the trees in the Mokulēʻia dry forests." [1]

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

The endemic genus Chrysodracon has been recently 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 forbesii is likely named for Charles Noyes Forbes (1883-1920), a botanist and former curator of the Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii. [this needs to be confirmed]

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). [1]

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

Modern Use

Leaves and flowers can be used for lei making today.

Additional References

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