Pritchardia glabrata

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hāwane
  • Loulu
  • Noulu
  • Wāhane

Hawaiian Names

  • Hawane
  • Loulu
  • Noulu
  • Wahane

Common Names

  • Smooth Loulu


  • Pritchardia elliptica
  • Pritchardia lanaiensis

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30

Mature Size, Width

The canopy width is 10-12 feet. [Garrett Webb, Kalaoa Gardens]

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Provides Shade
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

An excellent miniature palm for the native landscape. Stress or lack of magnesium is indicated by yellowing leaves. (See Fertilizer section)

Garrett Webb notes: "It would not enjoy full low elevation sun, but would look great at 1,000’ or more." [Garrett Webb, Kalaoa Gardens]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • White
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

This loulu has pale white to yellowish flowers.

Blooming Period

  • Fall
  • Winter

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

The information for the fall/winter blooming period is based on the cultivated plants at Waimea Valley, Oʻahu. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi] Numerous small fruits appear on fruit stalks as long as the leaf stalks (petioles). [4]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

The wavy leaves are about 2 feet long on this miniature species.

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Leaves are green above and below. [4]

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Loulu is prone to leaf rollers, red spider mites and sugar cane borers. Rats will eat the fruit.

leaf Growth Requirements


Apply a complete palm fertilizer with minor elements as directed on label. Be certain that sufficient magnesium and potassium is present in the fertilizer component. This is especially critical for loulus in pots. Magnesium and potassium deficiencies are two of the most serious nutritional disorders in palms. The deficiencies are characterized by bright yellowing (chlorotic) on leaf edges or streaking or the entire fronds yellowing. This can be difficult to reverse. Applications of Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate (MgSO4), is good but does not last and is usually washed out of the soil in rainy periods. There are some very good slow release fertilizer spikes made for especially for palms on the market which contain a good balance of minor elements with magnesium and potassium. [1,2] Potted or younger loulu planted in the ground appreciate a foliar feeding of kelp or fish emulsion and Epsom salt monthly or bi-monthly. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Pruning Information

The dead leaves, flowers and fruits can be removed in a landscape setting for a cleaner appearance.

Water Requirements

  • Moist

Additional Water Information

When the palm is well established, water once per month. These loulu can tolerate wetter soil with good drainage.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Does best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.


  • Drought
  • Salt Spray


  • Sand

Special Growing Needs

This loulu is wind and somewhat salt tolerant. [Anna Palomino, Hoʻolawa Farms]

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 1000 to 1999, Greater than 100 (Wet)


  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

Naturally occurring in dry to moist scrubby forest and grasslands on near vertical slopes in the vicinity of Maunalei Gulch on Lānaʻi and in the valleys and groges on the sounthern and southeastern side of Puʻu Kukui, including ʻĪao Valley, West Maui at around 1800 feet.

The range extension to Lānaʻi is based on a revision of the genus Pritchardia and includes Pritchardia ellipticum and P. lanaiensis, now considered as synonyms of P. glabrata. [4,5,6]

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

There are 27 species of Pritchardia in the Palm family (Aracaceae) of which 24 are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. [5,6]


The generic name is named for William Thomas Pritchard (1829-1907), 19th century British counsul in Fiji, adventurer, and author of Polynesian Reminiscences in 1866.

The specific epithet glabrata is derived from the Latin glabrous, without hairs, in reference the the leaves of this species generally without fuzz or small hairs.

Hawaiian Names:

Loulu, pronounced low-loo, means "umbrella," because the leaves were formerly used as protection from rain or sun.

The names Hāwane and Wāhane refers the fruit or nut of the loulu, but can also refer to the palm itself. The name is also used for a small red limu or seaweed (Polysiphonia spp.). [3]

Loulu is the Hawaiian name for all species of Pritchardia in the Hawaiian Archipelago. The name has at times been misspelled as Loʻulu. However, Loʻulu, with ʻokina, is the name of the endemic Hawaiian fern Coniogramme pilosa. Loulu is also used for a species of filefish (Alutera monoceros), perhaps so called because its greenish-white skin resembled the loulu palm. It was used in sorcery to cause death because the name contains the word lou, to hook. [3]

Noulu is a variation of Loulu. [3]

Background Information

Pritchardia glabrata is related to P. hillebrandii, P. kaalae, P. maideniana, and P. remota, and similar to P. remota and P. waialealeana and difficult to distinguish apart. [5,6]

Fossil evidence show that loulu were once widely spread throughout the islands, especially in the lowlands.

Early Hawaiian Use

Loulu (Pritchardia spp.): The hard wood of the trunk of taller species of loulu were fashioned into spears by early Hawaiians.

The fruits called hāwane or wāhane were peeled and eaten by early Hawaiians. They collected young fruits. The flavor of young fruit with the soft interior is similar to coconut. The trunks loulu were notched for climbing to gather the immature fruits and fronds. Older specimens still bear notches that can be seen today. [4]

The fronds, or leaves, called lau hāwane were used by the early Hawaiians for thatching and more recently as plaiting such as papale (hats) and fans.

Modern Use

The Smooth loulu are small, sometimes dwarf palms, and typically very slow growing. [6] These loulu are incorporated in landscaping on their native Lānaʻi and Maui, but also used on Oʻahu and perhaps on other islands as well. Because of their small stature, even as mature specimens (to 15 feet), they are great for small commercial settings and urban yards.

Additional References

[1] [accessed 3/4/09]
[2] [accessed 3/4/09]

[3] Hawaiian Dictionaries [12/30/09]

[4] "Loulu--The Hawaiian Pritchardia" by Donald R. Hodel, The Palm Journal #193, pages 10, 12.

[5] "A Review of the Genus Pritchardia" by Donald R. Hodel, pages S-3, S-8, S-14-15.

[6] "Loulu: The Hawaiian Palm" by Donald R. Hodel, pages 1, 80-81, 82, 83.



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