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Abutilon menziesii

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Abutilon

Species

menziesii

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Koʻoloa ʻula

Hawaiian Names

  • Kooloa ula

Names with Unknown Sources

  • Red abutilon
  • Red ilima

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Endemic

Endangered Species Status

Federally Listed

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Sprawling Shrub

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Small, 2 to 6
  • Shrub, Medium, 6 to 10

Mature Size, Width

Minimum height to width ratio 2:1.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Hedges
  • Screening
  • Specimen Plant

Additional Landscape Use Information

These are attractive shrubs with silvery-green foliage and beatiful flowers. Koʻoloa ʻula was one of the first Hawaiian endangered species to be used in urban landscapes. An excellent heat and drought tolerant plant for very sunny and dry areas. Best not to over water koʻoloa ʻula for best flower production.

Source of Fragrance

  • No Fragrance

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Showy

Flower Colors

  • Cream
  • Pink
  • Red
  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

The small hibiscus-shaped flowers generally hang downward. Though charming up close, the flowers can be hidden by the much larger leaves and not often visible at a distance. Of course, there are exceptions especially with smaller- or narrow-leaved forms.

Although the Hawaiian name ʻula refers to the more commonly seen red color, koʻoloa ʻula flowers are known in a range of colors: pink, pink and white, pale red, maroon, deep purplish-red (wine), salmon, and blond or butter. The center or staminal column is yellowish.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round
  • Sporadic

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

If flowers and seed pods are picked, flowering will continue. During the hottest parts of the year, flowering may cease for a month or two.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine
  • Medium

Additional Plant Texture Information

The attractive leaves are variable in shape and have a velvety (pubescent) feel to them. Leaves range between 1 and 5 inches.

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

The intensity of the pubescence varies with the form, amount of sunlight and water.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Chinese rose beetles will often chew unsightly holes in leaves. Aphids can be a problem around flower buds. Black sooty mold can be due to overwatering or in periods of continuous heavy rainfall.

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

Apply a balanced slow release fertilizer with minor elements every six months. While an occasional foliar feeding is beneficial, monitor the frequency and amounts of applications. Over fertilizing, especially with nitrogen, can cause large floppy foliage, producing fewer flowers and encourages leaf-eating pests. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Pruning Information

Koʻoloa ʻula can be pruned to desired height. Avoid cutting branches too far back to the leafless wood because plants may not re-branch.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

It is best to water the ground beneath the shrubs to avoid excessive water on the foliage and branches which can lead to fungal problems. Allow soil to dry between waterings. Black sooty mold forming on leaves and stems, as well as a lower flower production, are tell tale signs of overwatering. Prolonged rainy periods may also cause black sooty mold to form but plants usually bounce back in the dry season. Once established there is little reason to provide additional water except in very dry periods. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Additional Lighting Information

Best grown in full sun for good health and highest flower production.

Spacing Information

Space them 4 to 6 feet a part to showcase individual shrubs in the landscape, or 2 to 5 feet for hedge plantings.

Tolerances

  • Drought

Soils

  • Clay
  • Cinder
  • Organic

Limitations

Shelter from wind.

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Oʻahu
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Additional Habitat Information

Locally uncommon to rare in dry forests.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Koʻoloa ʻula are smaller relatives of hibiscuses belonging to the Mallow family (Malvaceae). The Hawaiian Islands have four native Abutilon species: one indigenous species (Abutilon incanum) and three endemic endangered species (A. eremitopetalum, A. menziesii, A. sandwicense).

This species easily hybridizes with the hidden-petaled abuliton (Abutilon eremitopetalum), a Lānaʻi endemic, producing an interesting cross with a balance of characteristics from both parents. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Early Hawaiian Use

The flowers were used in lei making. [1]

The juice of the red blossoms were used as a laxative. [2]

Modern Use

The flowers do not wilt quickly making koʻoloa ʻula a nice lei flower. [1]

Additional References

[1] "Nā Lei Makamae--The Treasured Lei" by Marie A. McDonald & Paul R. Weissich, page 52.

[2] "Native Planters in Old Hawaii--Their Life, Lore, & Environment" by E. S. Handy and Elizabeth Green Handy, page 239.

Special Notes and Information

Koʻoloa ʻula are smaller relatives of hibiscuses belonging to the Mallow family (Malvaceae). The Hawaiian Islands have four native Abutilon species: one indigenous species (Abutilon incanum) and three endemic endangered species (A. eremitopetalum, A. menziesii, A. sandwicense).

This species easily hybridizes with the hidden-petaled abuliton (Abutilon eremitopetalum), a Lānaʻi endemic, producing an interesting cross with a balance of characteristics from both parents. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Early Hawaiian Use:

The flowers were used in lei making. [1]

The juice of the red blossoms were used as a laxative. [2]

Modern Use

The flowers do not wilt quickly making koʻoloa ʻula a nice lei flower. [1]

Landscape Use:

These are attractive shrubs with silvery-green foliage and beatiful flowers. Koʻoloa ʻula was one of the first Hawaiian endangered species to be used in urban landscapes. An excellent heat and drought tolerant plant for very sunny and dry areas. Best not to over water koʻoloa ʻula for best flower production.

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