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Vitex rotundifolia

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Vitex

Species

rotundifolia

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Hinahina kolo
  • Kolokolo kahakai
  • Mānawanawa
  • Mānewanewa
  • Māwanawana
  • Pōhinahina
  • Pōlinalina

Hawaiian Names

  • Hinahina kolo
  • Kolokolo kahakai
  • Manawanawa
  • Manewanewa
  • Mawanawana
  • Pohinahina
  • Polinalina

Common Names

  • Beach vitex
  • Round-leaf chastetree
  • Round-leaf vitex

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Indigenous

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Sprawling Shrub

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Dwarf, Less than 2
  • Shrub, Small, 2 to 6
  • Shrub, Medium, 6 to 10

Mature Size, Width

Pōhinahina form low medium sized shrubs 6 to 8 feet wide. The height to width ratio is 1:2.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Erosion Control
  • Ground Cover
  • Hedges

Additional Landscape Use Information

Allow a lot of room for pōhinahina to spread. Out plant with ʻaʻaliʻi and native trees like wiliwili or naio. Often seen as a landscape shrub along highways and freeways.

Source of Fragrance

  • Leaves

Additional Fragrance Information

Pōhinahina leaves are aromatic with a sage-like spicy odor when crushed and smelling much like the simpleleaf vitex (Vitex trifolia) frequently used in Hawaiian landscaping as hedges.

Other descriptions of the leaf fragrance are black pepper, basil, minty, and fir trees or "like being in a forest."

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Blue
  • Purple

Additional Flower Color Information

Pōhinahina has bell-shaped flowers with blue violet corollas (petals).

Blooming Period

  • Year Round

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine
  • Medium

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves range from under an inch to over 2 1/2 inches long.

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

The leaves are pale green or bluish green with a lower surface that is grayish white.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Shrubs are prone to ants, scale, aphids, mealy bugs, and spittle bugs. During wet periods, a type of leaf rot fungus or powdery mildew may appear. It will usually clear up with drier weather.

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

An application of a balanced slow release fertilize with minor elements every 6 months. Foliar feed monthly with kelp or fish emulsion, or a water-soluble fertilizer with a dilution of one half to one third of recommended strength. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Pruning Information

Pōhinahina prunes well, forming thick hedges or ground covers. A good container plant and also hanging baskets if pruned regularly. Regular pruning encourages new growth. Prune to manage size and shape and to stimulate compactness.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Under very wet conditions or prolonged rainy periods a leaf rot fungus or powdery mildew may appear but usually will clear up when water decreases. Once plant is established water only during prolonged drought periods. Pōhinahina can become leggy with too much water and fertilizer.

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Additional Lighting Information

Plants can become leggy if grown too shaded.

Spacing Information

Plants should be spaced between 2 to 4 ft. apart.

Tolerances

  • Drought
  • Wind
  • Salt Spray
  • Heat

Soils

  • Clay
  • Sand
  • Cinder
  • Coral

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Niʻihau
  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Additional Habitat Information

Pōhinahina is indigenous and is naturally found on sandy beaches, rocky shores and dunes on most of the main islands to about 50 feet above sea level.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Pōhinahina has been recently placed in the very large Mint family (Lamiaceae) of some 7,000 species! The number of well known, mostly aromatic, members is amazing, and they include spearmint, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, basil, sage (Salvia), savory, marjoram, oregano, thyme, shiso or perilla, yerba buena, lion's ear (Leonotis), coleus, chia, lemon balm (Melissa), horehound, pennyroyal, catnip, hyssop, clerodendrum, teak (Tectona), and Mesona, used in making "grass jelly."

The native Hawaiian members of Lamiaceae include the endemics: Honohono (Haplostachys haplostachya), the only existing one of five species; Stenogyne with 21 species; and the nearly endemic Phyllostegia comprising of 32 species. The indigenous members are pōhinahina, ʻalaʻala wai nui wahine (Plectranthus parviflorus), and the pitcher sage or pakaha (Lepechinia hastata), questionably indigenous.

Etymology

The generic name Vitex is derived from the Latin viere, to bind or twist, in reference to the flexible creeping stems of some species.

The specific epithet rotundifolia is from the Latin rotundatus, rounded, and folius, leaves, in reference to the round-shaped leaves of this species.

Hawaiian Names:

Pōlinalina is an Oʻahu name for this plant.

Early Hawaiian Use

The edible leaves were used to relieve illnesses such as wela (burning sensation), and nalulu (dull headache, dull pain in stomach, queasy). The liquid when processed can be used to bathe in. [2]

The fragrant foliage as well as the flowers were used in lei making. [1]

Modern Use

The flowers and pungent leaves are used today in lei work.

Foliage and flowers can be used in dried floral arrangements due to their longevity as cut material. [Linda Bard, Waimea Valley, retired]

Medicinally, the fruit and leaves are used in combination with other plants for "back pain with emotional agitation, back pain with insomnia, and eye redness and pain."

Additional References

[1] "Nā Lei Makamae--The Treasured Lei" by Marie A. McDonald & Paul R. Weissich, page 48.

[2] "Native Hawaiian Medicine--Volume III" by The Rev. Kaluna M. Kaʻaiakamanu, page 73.

[3] "Medicine at Your Feet: Healing Plants of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume 1," by David Bruce Leonard, pages 181, 183.

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