Pritchardia lowreyana

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hāwane
  • Loulu
  • Noulu
  • Wāhane

Hawaiian Names

  • Hawane
  • Loulu
  • Noulu
  • Wahane

Common Names

  • Lowrey's loulu
  • Molokaʻi pritchardia


  • Pritchardia brevicalyx
  • Pritchardia donata
  • Pritchardia macrocarpa

Did You Know…?

This loulu (Pritchardia lowreyana) has been cultivated in Hawaiʻi for many years. The most famous example is at the former residence of William Hillebrand (1821-1886), physician and botanist. It is now known as Foster Botanical Garden. This very special loulu surrounded by a low iron fence has the official desination as an Exceptional Tree of Hawaiʻi. A more detailed account is located in the "Special Features and Information" section of this profile. [3,5]

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

At Risk

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Dwarf, Less than 15
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30
  • Tree, Medium, 30 to 50

Mature Size, Width

8 to 10 feet leaf spread.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

A small to medium-sized loulu from 6 to not much more than 30 feet tall. [1]

One source notes: "This species, when grown at or near sea level, seems to be affected by the change in elevation with character changes...differences in the size of the fruit and form of the leaves have been noticed." [4]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Colors

  • Yellow

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Large globose (round) or ovoid (egg-shaped) fruits at least 1 1/4 inches wide are on fruit stalks to as long as the leaves. [1]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves are wavy and undersides are completely covered with lepidia (fuzz-like amterial). [1]

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Leaves green above and below. [1]

leaf Pests and Diseases

leaf Growth Requirements

Water Requirements

  • Moist
  • Wet

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 1000 to 1999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 2000 to 2999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 3000 to 3999, Greater than 100 (Wet)


  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

This loulu (Pritchardia lowreyana) is found in wet to moist forest and bare grassy and rocky areas of Oʻahu and Molokaʻi from 800 to 3300 feet on exposed slopes and sea cliffs. [7]

On Molokaʻi it is sometimes occurs with or near another loulu (P. forbesiana). [3]

On Oʻahu, it was recently rediscovered by botanist Joel Lau and Kenji Suzuki growing at 1700 feet on a steep, rocky north facing slope of Puʻu ʻŌhulehule in the Koʻolau Range. There remain four adults and several juveniles. [4,7]

The range extension to Oʻahu of this long thought to be extinct species is based a revision of the genus Pritchardia. [1,3,7]

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. [3,7]

Pritchardia lowreyana is related to P. forbesiana, P. gordonii, P. munroi, and P. schattaueri. [3]


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 lowreyana is named for the late Mrs. F. J. Lowrey of Honolulu. [7]

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.). [2]

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. [2]

Noulu is a variation of Loulu. [2]

Background Information

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

A Very Special Palm:

Visitors to Foster Botanical Gardens in Honolulu will see a small loulu surrounded by an iron fence. Planted over 100 years ago, this small palm has a historical significance in Honolulu. William Hillebrand (1821-1886), was a young Prussian physician and plant collector when he came to the islands to live in 1850. An enthusiastic botanist, Hillebrand planted many of the plants he collected on the grounds of Queen's Hospital and also 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. It was sometime after 1851 that this loulu was planted by Dr. Hillebrand. The original habitat of this species, then known as Pritchardia macrocarpa, was in the upper end of Nuʻuanau Valley on Oʻahu and thought to be extinct when it was recently rediscovered. This particular loulu in Foster Botanical Gardens has been given the official designation as an Exceptional Tree of Hawaiʻi. [5,6]

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 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 fruits called hāwane or wāhane [2] 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 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. [2,5]

Modern Use


Additional References

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

[2] Hawaiian Dictionaries [Accessed on 01/08/10]

[3] "A Review of the Genus Pritchardia" by Donald R. Hodel, pages S-3, S-8, S-24.

[4] "Loulu, The Hawaiian Pritchardia" blog [Accessed on 04/22/11]

[5] "Majesty--The Exceptional Trees of Hawaii," by Jodi Parry Belknap, page 20.

[6] "Dr. William Hillebrand--His Life & Letters," by Ursula H. Meier, page 1.

[7] "Loulu: The Hawaiian Palm" by Donald R. Hodel, pages 1, 110, 111.



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