Portulaca molokiniensis

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • ʻIhi

Hawaiian Names

  • Ihi

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

Federally Listed

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Non-Woody, Spreading

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Herbaceous, Short, Less than 1
  • Herbaceous, Medium, 1-3

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Container
  • Ground Cover
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

ʻIhi is not a difficult plant to grow if some general cultivation rules are followed: full sun with a fast draining soil holding little moisture.

These are great potted plants for the often harsh conditions on full sun and windy porches or lānais. If kept in containers, best to use a 4 to 6 inch cement, terra cotta, or unglazed ceramic pots which are preferred over plastic ones. These types of potting containers tend to breath better and allow potting mix to dry out quicker, essential for the health of these xeric plants. Too, the weight of the pots will help these succulents from toppling over in windy conditions and as they grow larger in the pots. Use a very dry potting mix (i.e. cactus mix) with perfect drainage. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Plants prefer to be root bound and will do well as long as soil is remaining in the pot.

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

This ʻihi has bright lemony yellow flowers.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Each flower opens for one day. If there are several flowers on each stalk, flowering can last for several days.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves are about 2 inches long or wide.

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

ʻIhi is prone to slugs, ants, mealy bugs, scale, thrips, spider mites and aphids, root mealy bugs and scale. Fungal rot can be a major problem so do not let water remain on the surface. ʻIhi needs well drained soil. Water in the morning to allow the pot to dry out during the day.

Not recommended for those who love to water plants!

leaf Growth Requirements


An application of a balanced slow release fertilize with minor elements every 6 months. Foliar feed monthly with kelp or fish emulsion, or a water-soluble fertilizer with a dilution of one half to one third of recommended strength.

Pruning Information

None necessary except to remove dead leaves and spent flower stalks, but will eventually drop off if left alone. Plants can be divided. [Native Nursery, LLC]

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Once plant is established, let plant dry out between waterings

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Additional Lighting Information

In full sunlight stems get to be about the thickness of a cigar.


  • Drought
  • Heat


  • Sand
  • Cinder


Does not like wet conditions and will rot in constantly wet soils. If you like to water ...water ...water your plants, then do get this plant.

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Maui
  • Kahoʻolawe

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)


  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

This rare species of portulaca is restricted to a few coastal sites on Molokini Island (Maui), Puʻukoaʻe Islet and Kamōhio Bay, Kahoʻolawe. It is known to grow in volcanic tuff, detritus at base of sea cliff and on steep rocky slopes from about 30 to about 375 feet.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

ʻIhi (Portulaca spp.) are members of the Purslane family or Portulacaceae. Many, such as portulacas and lewisias, have succulent leaves and very colorful flowers that are commonly seen in home gardens.

There are four species of Portulaca native to the Hawaiian Archipelago.


The generic name Portulaca is the Latin name for purslane (Portulaca oleracea).

The specific epithet molokiniensis refers to Molokini Islet off Maui's southern coast, one of the few places this endangered species can naturally be found growing.

Background Information

This endangered endemic portulaca is similar to its close relative, the indigenous Portulaca lutea. But the two plants in cultivation can be ditinguished by the following characteristics:

Potulaca molokiniensis

  • a taller upright growing plant with thicker stems and leaves
  • stalks with denser flower clusters
  • flat seeds are tiny and spiny.

Portulaca lutea

  • generally a prostrate growing plant
  • few flowers closer to leaves
  • flat seeds are tiny and smooth.

Additional References



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