Brighamia rockii

Common Names:
alula, 'olulu, pu aupaka, pua 'ala
St. John
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
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:
National Tropical Botanical Garden
San Diego Zoo Global

The conservation of Brighamia rockii is fully sponsored.


There are two endangered Brighamia species endemic to Hawaii (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] 2001). One, Brighamia insignis, is found on the islands of Kauai and Niihau, and Brighamia rockii is found only on the island of Molokai. Both have succulent stems that act as a water storage system for the plant, allowing plants to withstand periods of drought which can be common on the vertical rock sea-cliffs where they are found. Historically, native Hawaiians made trumpets from the hollowed out trunks of these species, and there are reports of it being cultivated on the island of Molokai as a remedy for consumption and other ailments.

B. rockii, a member of the bellflower family (Campanulaceae) grows as a potentially branched plant 1 to 5 meters (3 to 16 ft) tall with a thickened, succulent stem that tapers from the base. This long-lived perennial has oval leaves that are widest at their tips and are arranged in a rosette at the top of the plant, resembling a head of cabbage. They measure 6 to 22 centimeters (2 to 9 in) long and 5 to 15 centimeters (2 to 6 in) wide. The fragrant flowers of B. rockii have white corollas with glabrous anthers and are clustered in groups of three to eight in the leaf axils.

B. insignis differs in petal color (with cream to yellow flowers) and has shorter flower stalks with longer calyx lobes than B. rockii (USFWS 1996). Another distinguishing characteristic between the two is that B. rockii has a distinct purple trunk during its juvenile stage, while B. insignis does not.

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research