Kokia cookei

Common Names:
Cooke kokio, Cooke's kokio, hau Hele'ula, Hawaiian tree cotton, koki'o, Molokai koki'o, Molokai red cotton
Growth Habit:
Tree, Shrub
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
David Orr
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Waimea Valley

The conservation of Kokia cookei is fully sponsored.
David Orr contributed to this Plant Profile.


Kokia cookei is considered one of the rarest and most endangered plant species in the world. It was discovered in the 1860's on the western end of Moloka`i by Mr. R. Meyer. This find consisted of 3 tress, which were not relocated on subsequent visits a few years later. In 1910, a single living tree was discovered within the general area of the initial sighting and may in fact, have been one of the original trees. In 1915, this last remaining wild specimen was found in extremely poor condition though a few seeds were found and collected. Kokia cookei became extirpated from the wild in 1918. Seeds from this collection produced only one seedling that survived past 1933. This one remaining seedling was planted at a Kauluwai residence on Moloka`i, and produced over 130 seedlings though none of these plants have persisted. In the late 1950's, the single plant at Kauluwai, Moloka`i died and it was presumed extinct.

In 1970, a single plant of the species was discovered at the Moloka`i residence, probably a surviving relict of the previous cultivated plant. But in 1978, a fire destroyed the last remaining rooted plant of Kokia cookei. Fortunately, before it was destroyed, a branch was removed and later grafted onto a related species at the Waimea Arboretum. Currently, Kokia cookei exists as approximately 23 grafted plants.

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research