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Kauai Koki`o (Kokia kauaiensis)

Full view of a medium grown specimen in a landscaped situation. Notice the large 7/9 lobed leaves. Photo Credit: K. Wood
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 145388
  • Lifeform: Tree, Shrub
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 05/28/1986

There are four described species of Kokia, a genus endemic to Hawaii. Of these four, one has been presumed extinct since the late 1800s, and the other three are clinging to life with varying degrees of success. One of them, Kokia cookei, survives only in botanical gardens as a few individuals that have been grafted onto root stock of Kokia kauaiensis in order to survive (Woolliams et al. 1980). Thus, in relation to its relatives, K. kauaiensis is doing relatively well, but itself consists of only 6 populations totaling less than 100 individuals (USFWS 2001). K. kauaiensis, a member of the hibiscus family (Malvaceae) is a small tree that grows from 5 to 10 meters (16-33 ft) tall. Its leaves have 7 to 9 lobes and circular in shape (12 to 25 cm wide) with a heart-shaped base. The broadly egg-shaped floral bracts are 4 to 6 centimeters (1.5-2 in) long and hairless, except for the base. It has curved petals 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 in) long are twisted at the base, and densely covered with yellowish silky hairs. The fruit is an egg-shaped capsule with egg-shaped seeds covered with reddish, wooly hairs up to 10 millimeters long. This long-lived perennial species is distinguished from others of this endemic Hawaiian genus by the length of the bracts surrounding the flower head (brick red in color), number of lobes, and the width of the leaves. The length of the petals and the length of the hairs on the seeds are also distinctive (USFWS 1998).

Where is Kauai Koki`o (Kokia kauaiensis) located in the wild?


K. kauaiensis typically grows in diverse mesic forest between 350 to 660 meters (1,150 to 2,165 ft) elevation.Associated species of K. kauaiensis include Bobea sp. (ahakea), Acacia koa (koa), Diospyros sandwicensis (lama), Hedyotis sp. (manono), Pleomele sp. (hala pepe), Isodendrion sp. (aupaka), Pisonia sp. (papala kepau), Nestegis sandwicensis (Olopua), Syzygium sandwicensis (ohia ha), Antidesma sp. (hame), Alyxia olivaeformis (maile), Pouteria sandwicensis (alaa), Streblus pendulinus (aiai), Canthium odoratum (alahee), Dicranopteris linearis (uluhe) , Hibiscus sp. (aloalo), Flueggea neowawraea (mehamehame), Melicope sp. (alani), Diellia laciniata (palapalai lau lii), Tetraplasandra sp. (ohe ohe), Chamaesyce celastroides (akoko), Lipochaeta fauriei (nehe), Dodonaea viscose (aalii), Santalum sp. (iliahi), Claoxylon sandwicense (poola), and Metrosideros polymorpha (ohia).


K. kauaiensis is endemic to Kauai and was historically found at seven scattered populations on northwestern part of the island. This species is now found in six populations on Kauai, Paaiki Valley, Ma

States & Provinces:

Kauai Koki`o can be found in Hawaii

Which CPC Partners conserve Kauai Koki`o (Kokia kauaiensis)?

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

Endemic to western Kauai. There are estimated to be fewer than 200 individuals and regeneration is poor. This species' moist forest habitat is under heavy pressure from introduced mammals (goats, pigs, and deer). These alien animals are causing severe erosion, and are major factors in the decline of the moist forests of Kauai. Alien plants are also a serious threat to the species and its habitat.

  • 01/01/2010

Threats to K. kauaiensis include competition with and habitat degradation by invasive alien plant species, including Lantana camara (lantana), Passiflora ligularis (sweet granadilla), Rubus rosifolius (thimbleberry), Kalanchoe pinnata (air plant), Psidium

  • 01/01/2010

Number of Populations: 6 (USFWS 2001) Number of Plants: <100 (USFWS 2001)

  • 01/01/2010

Over 50 plants of K. kauaiensis has been cultivated in botanical gardens by seed and tissue culture.

  • 01/01/2010

Kauai Division of Forestry and Wildlife has fenced in the population of K. kauaiensis in Paaiki Valley (USFWS 1998) to protect it from feral goats and deer. The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) currently has ex situ holdings of 160 seeds in its seed bank, which represents three out of the six populations. In addition, there are five plants that represent two out of the six populations growing in the nursery and 35 individuals representing five of the six populations in the grounds of the botanical garden. Four out of the 35 plants in the grounds have an unknown locality.

  • 01/01/2010

1. Remove all alien plants inside completed exclosures. Although fences protect against feral goats, alien weed and rat control should be practiced. 2. Map the genetic diversity in the surviving populations of K. kauaiensis. 3. Conduct pollination biology and seed dispersal studies on K. kauaiensis. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, and USFWS (1998).

  • 01/01/2010

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


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Taxon Kokia kauaiensis
Authority (Rock) Degener & Duvel
Family Malvaceae
CPC Number 2387
ITIS 21977
Duration Perennial
Common Names hau Hele'ula | Kauai koki'o | koki'o | Kauai treecotton
Associated Scientific Names Kokia kauaiensis
Distribution K. kauaiensis is endemic to Kauai and was historically found at seven scattered populations on northwestern part of the island. This species is now found in six populations on Kauai, Paaiki Valley, Ma
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1
Ecological Relationships


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