`Akoko / Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

`Akoko (Euphorbia haeleeleana)

Caducous form in native habitat. Notice the terminal seed capsules. Photo Credit: K. Wood
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 142724
  • Lifeform: Tree
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 07/09/1992

Euphorbia haeleeleana, is a short-lived perennial that is a member of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). It is a small dioecious tree 3 to 14 meters (10 to 46 ft) tall. It has thick branches and alternate, elliptic papery leaves 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 in) wide. The male trees have many small flowers with cyathium where the female trees have flowers with cyathia with a single female flower (Wagner et al. 1999). E. haeleeleana must be cross-pollinated from a different tree to produce viable seed (USFWS 1999). This species differs from other members of this family in Hawaii by its tree habit rather than herb or shrub forms (Wagner et al. 1999). E. haeleeleana sets fruit between August and October.

Where is `Akoko (Euphorbia haeleeleana) located in the wild?


E. haeleeleana is found in lowland mixed mesic or dry forests between 205 to 670 meters (673 to 2,198 ft) elevation (USFWS 1999).Associated species to E. haeleeleana include Metrosideros polymorpha (ohia), Acacia koa (koa), Diospyros sandwicensis (lama), Aleurites moluccana (kukui), Dodonaea viscosa (aalii), Erythrina sandwicensis (wiliwili), Pleomele sp. (halapepe), Reynoldsia sandwicensis (ohe), and Sapindus oahuensis (aulu) (USFWS 1999).


E. haeleeleana is found the islands of Kauai (Kuia, Mahanaloa, and Haeleele valleys, ridge between Paaiki and Mahanaloa valleys, and Waimea Canyon), and recently discovered on the upper Kaluakauila Gu

States & Provinces:

`Akoko can be found in Hawaii

Which CPC Partners conserve `Akoko (Euphorbia haeleeleana)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

This species is endemic to Kauai and the Waianae Mountains of Oahu. Although it is a very distinctive and conspicuous tree, it was not discovered until the 1960's when it was found on Kauai. It was not discovered on Oahu until the mid 1980's. The species appears to number under 1,000 individuals, with the majority of the plants on Kauai. The species faces a host of threats, including goats, pigs, deer, rats, fire and alien plants.

  • 01/01/2010

Threats to E. haeleeleana include habitat degradation by black-tailed deer, goats and pigs, predation by rats, fire, and competition from non-native, invasive plants (USFWS 1999).

  • 01/01/2010

Number of Populations: 15 (USFWS 2001) Number of Plants: 450-625 (USFWS 2001)

  • 01/01/2010

The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and the Waimea Arboretum has successfully propagated E. haeleeleana.

  • 01/01/2010

A report entitled U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii, Oahu Training Areas, Natural Resource Management Final Report has been completed by the Army Environmental Staff. This report entails detailed management plans and descriptions of completed actions for each endangered species that occurs on Army land. The Army Environmental staff has also conducted intensive rat control around the Keawaula population in order to collect seed and be able to propagate seed in their seedhouse (USFWS 1998). Fences were constructed by the State Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) enclosing about half the individuals of E. haeleeleana in Mahanaloa Valley on Kauai (USFWS 1999). DLNR-DOFAW Kauai has out-planted 13 plants grown at NTBG from 3 source collections. NTBG currently has ex situ holdings of seeds in their seed bank, which represents four out of the fifteen populations. In addition, there are 29 plants that represent two populations growing in the botanical garden. In May 2002, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that a designation of critical habitat was prudent for this species. (USFWS 2002)

  • 01/01/2010

1. Construct enclosures to protect populations against feral ungulates. Testing the effects of fencing would be the first priority before constructing the enclosures. 2. Control competing alien species such as Lantana camara (lantana), Psidium cattleianum (strawberry guava), Grevillea robusta (silk oak), Melinus minutiflora (molasses grass), Passiflora mollisima (banana poka) and Rubus rosifolius (thimbleberry). Weed control is also necessary within existing exclosures such as Mahanaloa Valley. 3. Maintain adequate genetic stock. Ex situ propagation should be continued to prevent extinction. Propagation materials should be collected immediately from populations with few individuals, such as Haeleele Valley, Kawaiula Valley, Koaie Canyon, and Pohakuao on Kauai, and Kahanahaiki Valley, and Kaumokuiki Ridge on Oahu. 4. Enhance wild populations and establish new populations. After propagated material is available, and after fencing and weeding are underway, outplanting should be done to enhance wild population. New populations should be established within the historic range of Euphorbia haeleeleana. 5. Reduce threats from rats. A management plan should be developed and implemented to control the rat population. 6. Protect plants from fire. A fire plan should be developed and implemented, especially by the Army on the Makua Military Reservation where current ordinance training exercises could unintentionally ignite fires. 7. Map genetic diversity in the surviving populations of E. haeleeleana. 8. Conduct pollination studies on E. haeleeleana. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, and USFWS (1999).

  • 01/01/2010

1. Establish secure ex situ stocks with full founder representation. 2. Survey ex situ holdings and conduct molecular fingerprinting. 3. Develop proper horticultural protocols and pest management for E. haeleeleana. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin and M. Maunder.


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Taxon Euphorbia haeleeleana
Authority Herbst
Family Euphorbiaceae
CPC Number 1888
ITIS 28159
Duration Perennial
Common Names Akoko | Kauai spurge | `akoko
Associated Scientific Names Euphorbia haeleeleana
Distribution E. haeleeleana is found the islands of Kauai (Kuia, Mahanaloa, and Haeleele valleys, ridge between Paaiki and Mahanaloa valleys, and Waimea Canyon), and recently discovered on the upper Kaluakauila Gu
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1
Ecological Relationships


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