Syzygium sandwicense

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Syzygium

Species

sandwicense

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Kauokahiki
  • Pāʻihi
  • Pāʻihiʻihi
  • ʻŌhia hā

Hawaiian Names

  • Ha
  • Kauokahiki
  • Ohia ha
  • Paihi
  • Paihiihi

Common Names

  • Hawaiian syzygium

Synonyms

  • Eugenia sandwicensis
  • Eugenia sandwicensis var. parviflora
  • Syzygium oahuense
  • Syzygium sandwicense

Did You Know…?

ʻŌhiʻa hā is a close relative of the mountain apple (ʻohiʻa ʻai). The small fruit of ʻōhiʻa hā are edible but often bland, even bitter, to slightly sweet.

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30
  • Tree, Medium, 30 to 50
  • Tree, Large, Greater than 50

Mature Size, Width

Forest trees can be 60 feet or more tall.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

Thus far, ʻōhiʻa hā is used very little in the landscape. It has the potential to be a showy tree for large spaces and does well in lower urban areas when provided enough water. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Source of Fragrance

  • Leaves

Additional Fragrance Information

Leaves emit a distinctive odor when crushed. [5]

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • White

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Fruiting is abundant in late summer. [8]  But appears to be sporadic flowering and fruiting year round.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine
  • Medium

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Black twig borer and ʻohiʻa rust plague other members of the Myrtle Family (Myrtaceae). Trim off all pieces infested by black twig borer, wrap in a plastic bag, and dispose of.

Since related genera are affected, it may be that ʻohiʻa ha will also suffer attacks by the bright yellow ʻohiʻa rust (Puccinia psidii) especially in wet environments or during the rainy season. This aggressive rust can be a serious problem if not taken care of in a timely manner. At the first sign of ʻohiʻa rust, infected material can be carefully trimmed off, bagged securely, and disposed of. An untested suggestion is to put cut pieces in a bottle with a small amount of alcohol before disposing. Then, the plant and any others, including relatives (Eugenia spp., Metrosideros spp.), in the area should be treated with a fungicide immediately. [3]

Never add trimmings damaged by ʻohiʻa rust or black twig borer to a compost pile. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Growth Requirements

Water Requirements

  • Moist
  • Wet

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Soils

  • Organic

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 150 to 1000, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 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)
  • 4000 to 4999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 4000 to 4999, Greater than 100 (Wet)

Habitat

  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

ʻŌhia hā is found from 755 to about 4000 feet on ridges and slopes in mesic to wet forests and bogs on all the Main Islands, except Hawaiʻi.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

ʻŌhiʻa ha (Syzygium sandwicense) belong to the Myrtle family or Myrtaceae with a current figure at over 5,650 species. [2] The genus Syzygium comprises about 1100 species, with some very closely related edible notables such as clove (S. aromatica), jambulan or Java plum (S. cumini), rose apple (S. jambos), and Malay or mountain apple or ʻohiʻa ʻai (S. malaccense).

Other non-native relatives, many naturalized in Hawaiʻi, are numerous and include myrtle, tea tree, strawberry guava or waiawī ʻulaʻula, pineapple guava or kuawa, allspice, eucalyptus, melaleuca or paper bark, bottlebrush (Callistemon), and Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora)--to name a few. Some of these have become seriously invasives displacing large tracts of native forests with a monoscape of a single species. An extreme example of this is the highly invasive strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum) where little vegetation can grow beneath its dense canopy.

The native Myrtaceae members include the indigenous Beach cherry or nīoi (Eugenia reinwardtiana), and the endemics: five species of ʻōhiʻa (Metrosideros spp.) and the endangered Koʻolau eugenia or nīoi (Eugenia koolauensis).

Etymology

The generic name Syzygium is from the Greek prefix syn- or sys-, together, and zygon, yoked, in reference to the coherent (sticking together) petals that form a calyptra (hood or cup) in some species.

The species name sandwicense refers to the "Sandwich Islands," as the Hawaiian Islands were once called, and named by James Cook on one of his voyages in the 1770s. James Cook named the islands after John Montagu (The fourth Earl of Sandwich) for supporting Cook's voyages.

Hawaiian Names:

Pāʻihi and Pāʻihiʻihi are Maui names for this tree.

Background Information

Fruits of ʻōhiʻa hā are edible, [1] but much smaller than mountain apple (ʻohiʻa ʻai) and often bland, even bitter, to slightly sweet. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

When not in flower or fruiting, the trees is easily distinguished from ʻōhiʻa (Metrosideros spp.) by its smooth to slightly fissured gray to reddish brown bark. [5]

Early Hawaiian Use

Dye:

The bark produce a black dye for kapa (tapa). [5,8]

House Construction:

The wood was used in canoe construction, for fuel and house construction. [5,6]

Medicinal:

Apparently before Western contact, the leaves were brewed as a tea to lift the spirits. [7]

Modern Use

Samuel H. Lamb, naturalist and former ranger in the Hawaiʻi National Park, describes the wood as "reddish brown, diffuse, porous, irregular grain, quite hard and durable." [4]

Additional References

[1] "Plants in Hawaiian Culture" by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 16.

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrtaceae [accessed 10/14/09]

[3] "Hawaii Forest Disease and Pests" http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/forestry/disease/index.html [Accessed 2/4/11; updated on 4/28/10]

[4] "Native Trees & Shrubs of the Hawaiian Islands" by Samuel H. Lamb, page 93.

[5] "Common Forest Trees of Hawaii (Native and Introduced)" by Elbert L. Little & Roger G. Skolmen, page 240.

[6] http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb/resultsdetailed.asp?search=ohia_ha [Accessed on 2/4/11]

[7] http://hawaiianforest.com/hawaiian-forestry-and-medicine-on-aiea-ridge [Accessed on 2/4/11]

[8] "Common Forest Trees of Hawaii (Native and Introduced)" by Elbert L. Little Jr. and Roger G. Skolmen, page 278.

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