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Portulaca villosa

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Portulaca

Species

villosa

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • ʻIhi

Hawaiian Names

  • Ihi

Common Names

  • Hairy purslane

Synonyms

  • Portulaca caumii
  • Portulaca hawaiiensis
  • Portulaca pilosa subsp. villosa

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

At Risk

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Non-Woody, Spreading

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Grass-like, Short, Less than 1
  • Grass-like, Medium, 1 to 2.5

Mature Size, Width

Plant is known to have a 2-foot spread.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Ground Cover
  • Indoor
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

An excellent bedding or accent plant with very good drainage. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]

These are great potted plants for the often harsh conditions on full sun and windy porches or lānais. If kept in containers, 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.

This species has proven to be a great indoor plant, but only if used in a very sunny window planted excellent drainage. Plant them in a perfect drainage media such as for cactus, that is with mostly free draining potting materials such as a 4:1 ratio of 4 parts perlite and/or black cinder to 1 part good potting "soil" (e.g. Sunshine #4). But as mentioned, cement or terra cotte pots are best. Keep watering very minimal. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Pink
  • White

Additional Flower Color Information

Flowers of this species are white, pink, or pink with a white base.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

ʻIhi leaves are pale grayish green with yellowish brown hairs, hence the species name villosa meaning "hairy."

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

These succulents are prone to attacks from slugs, ants, mealy bugs, scale, thrips, spider mites and aphids, and root mealy bugs. Fungal rot can be a major problem so do not let water remain on the surface. ʻIhi need well drained soil and should be watered in the morning to allow the pot to dry out during the day.

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

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.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Too much water can cause ʻihi to become leggy and does not look as attractive. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Tolerances

  • Drought
  • Wind
  • Salt Spray
  • Heat

Soils

  • Sand
  • Cinder
  • Coral

Limitations

ʻIhi can succumb to fungal rot caused with too much moisture. Not a plant for those that ca't keep their fingers off the hose.

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Kahoʻolawe
  • Hawaiʻi
  • Northwest Islands

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Additional Habitat Information

This uncommon endemic species of ʻihi is naturally found in dry, rocky, clay, lava, or coralline reef sites from sea level to over 1,600 feet.

In the Northwest Islands it is only found on Nīhoa (Moku Manu). Interestingly, it is also found on Kaʻula, a small islet 23 miles southwest of Niʻihau, but strangely not known to naturally occur on nearby Niʻihau itself nor on Kauaʻi.

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.

Etymology

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

The Latin specific epithet villosa, hairy, in reference to the pale grayish green leaves with yellowish brown hairs.

Additional References

[1] "Natural History of Nihoa and Necker Islands" by Neal L. Evenhuis, page 61.

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