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Pritchardia hillebrandii

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Pritchardia

Species

hillebrandii

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hāwane
  • Loulu
  • Loulu lelo
  • Noulu
  • Wāhane

Hawaiian Names

  • Hawane
  • Loulu
  • Loulu lelo
  • Noulu
  • Wahane

Common Names

  • Hillebrand's Loulu
  • Hillebrand's Pritchardia

Synonyms

  • Eupritchardia hillebrandii
  • Pritchardia insignis
  • Washingtonia hillebrandii

Did You Know…?

Loulu lelo (Pritchardia hillebrandii) was named for William Hillebrand (1821-1886), a young Prussian physician and plant collector. He planted many of the plants he collected at Queen's Hospital and on his own property in Nuʻuanu. After moving back to Germany the property was sold to his neighbors Thomas & Mary Foster. Today, it is known as the Foster Botanical Gardens. There are several Pritchardia hillebrandii growing in the gardens, once Hillebrand's property. [2]

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

At Risk

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Medium, 30 to 50

Mature Size, Width

The canopy spread is from 4-7 feet. [Garrett Webb, Kalaoa Gardens]

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Provides Shade
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

An attractive and easy to grow loulu in the landscape. Looks nice in small groves of three or more palms or can be show cased with a single loulu. They are slow growing attaining a mature height to about 20 feet or so and with a trunk diameter of 10 inches. [8]

Due to the natural coastal habitat of loulu lelo, it does very well in low elevation landscapes and tolerates some salt spray.

This is a smaller fan palm that grows well in full sun with good drainage. [Garrett Webb, Kalaoa Gardens]

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • White
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

Loulu lelo has pale white to yellowish flowers.

Blooming Period

  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

After blooming, small fruts are on fruit stalks as long as the leaf stalks (petioles) of about 3 feet in length. [8,9]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

The leaves are wavy. [9]

Garrett Webb notes: "Its faintly bluish-green costapalmate leaves are a beautiful characteristic of this palm, as well as the almost wooly petioles. There is one form of this palm with a small growth habits and blue coloration called Dwarf Blue. This is a smaller fan palm that grows well in full sun with good drainage." [Garrett Webb, Kalaoa Nursery]

Leaf Colors

  • Gray / Silverish
  • Light Green
  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

These loulu have 4-foot long emerald green to grayish or bluish green leaves above and a waxy grayish green cast (glaucous) below. [8,9]

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

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

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

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. [4,5] 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

  • Dry

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Does best in full sun. At higher elevations requires partial shade.

Spacing Information

They can be seen in some gardens as close as 10 feet or less and appear to do well. But to showcase loulu lelo, 20 to 40 feet apart in landscape is good.

Tolerances

  • Drought
  • Wind
  • Salt Spray

Soils

  • Sand
  • Cinder
  • Coral

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Molokaʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)

Habitat

  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

Pehaps once common along the northern coast of Molokaʻi. As recently as 1976, fifteen loulu lelo were found in the valleys and the base of the sea cliifs of north coast of Molokaʻi. They are extinct there today, likely because of goats and rats. [11,12]

Loulu lelo is now restricted to mostly Huelo Islet, a 200-foot seastack, rising from the ocean off the windward coast of Molokaʻi. [11,12] About 200 loulu lelo live in the 2 to 3 acre a top this islet due to the absence of rats and goats. [3,12]

Also, there are a few palms on the nearby islet of Mōkapu. [7,12]

Loulu lelo are being reintroduced by Bill Garnett, a naturalist on Molokaʻi, in fenced areas on Kūkaʻiwaʻa Point on Molokaʻi. [12]

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. [11,12]

Etymology

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 hillebrandii was named for William Hillebrand (1821-1886), a young Prussian physician and plant collector. He planted many of the plants he collected at Queen's Hospital and on his own property in Nuʻuanu. After moving back to Germany the property was sold to his neighbors Thomas & Mary Foster. Today, it is known as the Foster Botanical Gardens. There are several Pritchardia hillebrandii growing in the gardens, once Hillebrand's property. [2]

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.). [10]

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. [10]

Noulu is a variation of Loulu. [10]

Loulu lelo, lit., yellowish loulu, is a specific name given for this Pritchardia. [10]

Background Information

Fossil evidence show that loulu were once widely spread throughout the islands, especially in the lowlands. Laysan once had dense loulu (Pritchardia sp.) forests as found in recent pollen samples.

Pritchardia hillebrandii is related to P. glabrata, P. kaalae, P. maideniana, and P. remota and is similar to Pritchardia affinis but much shorter in height. [8,11,12]

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. [9]

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.

Regarding Pritchardia hillebrandii, an even more amazing use by early Hawaiians was a sport somewhat like today's hang gliding. Reportedly, daring souls would climb Huelo Islet seastack, cut suitable fronds, attach fronds like wings, and then jump to glide to the ocean over a hundred feet below! [1]

Modern Use

Loulu lelo is one of the more commonly seen native Pritchardia's seen in botanical gardens, commercial settings, and in residents.

There is a beautiful cultivar or variety called 'Blue Moon' with bluish fronds that have been used in landscaping.

Additional References

[1] "Paddling My Own Canoe" by Audrey Sutherland, page 131.
[2] Naomi Hoffman, Foster Botanical Garden
[3] PACSOA http://www.pacsoa.org.au/palms/Pritchardia/hillebrandii.html (accessed August 4, 2008)

[4] http://donselman.homestead.com/page8.html [accessed 3/4/09]
[5] http://www.pacsoa.org.au/palms/Articles/minerals.html [accessed 3/4/09]

[6] http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/May/23/ln/ln08p.html [accessed 10/19/09]

[7] http://www.hawaiioirc.org/OIRC-ISLETS [accessed 11/7/09]

[8] "An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms" by Robert Lee Riffle & Paul Crafts, page 420.

[9] "Loulu--The Hawaiian Pritchardia" by Donald R. Hodel, The Palm Journal #193, page 7.

[10] Hawaiian Dictionaries http://www.wehewehe.org/ [accessed 12/30/09]

[11] "A Review of the Genus Pritchardia" by Donald R. Hodel, pages S-3, S-8, S-19.

[12] "Loulu: The Hawaiian Palm" by Donald R. Hodel, pages 1, 92-93, 95.

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