Pritchardia kaalae

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hāwane
  • Loulu
  • Noulu
  • Wāhane

Hawaiian Names

  • Hawane
  • Loulu
  • Noulu
  • Wahane

Common Names

  • Kaʻala loulu
  • Waiʻanae Range pritchardia

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

Federally Listed

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Dwarf, Less than 15
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30

Mature Size, Width

18 feet or so. [5]

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Provides Shade
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type


Flower Colors

  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

Flowers are showy en masse.

Blooming Period

  • December

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Based on photographic evidence, it blooms in December, but likely other months as well.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaf blades are deeply divided to nearly one-half into as many as 60 droop-tipped segments. [5]

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Leaf blades are dark green above and below. [5]

leaf Pests and Diseases

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

Spent (dead) fronds, or leaf blades, may be cut off or left for a more natural appearance. Fronds will eventually self-prune by falling off.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Regarding the effects of water and sunlight on this speies, Donald R. Hodel notes: "With more moisture and protected somewhat from the sun, leaf stalks and leaf blades are longer, diminishing somewhat the dramatic effect of the long flower and fruit stalks. In contrast, in drier more exposed locations, such as ʻŌhikilolo Ridge, plants are much smaller and leaf stalks and leaf blades are shorter, accentuating the long flower and fruit stalks." [5]

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Additional Lighting Information

See more information under "Additional Water Information" above.


  • Wind


  • Cinder
  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 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)
  • 3000 to 3999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)


  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

Kaʻala loulu is from the nothern and northwestern Waiʻanae Range from 1400 to 3000 feet in dry to moist forest around Kaʻala. [5]

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. [4,5]


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 kaalae refers to Kaʻala, Oʻahu, the tallest point on the island (4,025 ft.).

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

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

The distinctive Pritchardia kaalae has long flower and fruit stalks that typically are much longer than the leaves, as well as leaf blades with green undersides, which easily distiguish it from others in the islands. Baker's loulu (P. bakeri) from Oʻahu also have long flower stalks, but differ in their leaf blades with silvery gray undersides. [5]

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.

Additional References

[1] [Accessed 03/04/09]
[2] [Accessed 03/04/09]

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

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

[5] "Loulu: The Hawaiian Palm" by Donald R. Hodel, pages 1, 95, 96, 98.



leafMore Links

Back to Plant List

Plant List