Hibiscus brackenridgei – Ma’o Hau Hele
Other Common Names: Pua Aloalo, Brackenridge’s Rosemallow, Native Yellow Hibiscus
Hibiscus brackenridgei is an endemic plant in Hawaii that belongs to Malvaceae or Mallow family. It is considered to be Hawaii’s official state flower and is also known by its common names like Pua Aloalo, Native Yellow Hibiscus, Brackenridge’s Rosemallow, and Ma’o Hau Hele.
It can either be a tall shrub or a small tree as it grows only up to 10 meters or 33 feet and spreads from 8 to 10 feet. It lives quite long as it can survive for more than 5 years. It lives well in sunny areas and not in over watered soil as it may cause the roots to rot and grow mildew on the leaves.
When young, the trunks of the Ma’o Hau Hele are smooth and tan, but as they become older, they develop a wrinkled appearance. They are also covered with spines that look like pustules or boils.
The leaves have a medium to coarse texture and are medium green in color. They are indistinct and have toothed edges and lanceolate to oblanceolate in shape. They range from 2 to 6 inches long and are equally wide, with either 3, 5, or 7 palmate lobes, much like maple leaves.
Ma’o Hau Hele’s flowers are large, growing between 4 to 6 inches in diameter. They are yellow with red or maroon centers and grow in small clusters at the end of the branches. They bloom every winter and spring and does not produce any fragrance.
Unfortunately, the beautiful Ma’o Hau Hele is already endangered. They can only be found on main islands of Hawaii except Ni’ihau and Kaho’olawe.