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Plant Profile

Opuhe (Urera kaalae)

Early Hawaiians used the fibers from the bark of ōpuhe as cordage for fish nets. Medicially, ōpuhe was used for lepo paʻakiki (severe constipation). The generic name Urera is derived from the Latin uro, burn or sting, in reference to the stinging hairs of some species in this genus. The specific epithet kaalae refers to Kaʻala, Oʻahu, the highest point on the island one of the places in the Waiʻanae Range where this species was found. Photo Credit: David Eickhoff © 2005
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Urticaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 139064
  • Lifeform: Tree, Shrub
  • Date Inducted in National Collection:

This shrub is a part of the nettle family, but what sets it apart from over species of its genus is its thin heart-shaped leaves. It lacks stinging hairs and its flowers are very small. To early Hawaiians, Opuhe bark was used as cordage for fish nets some used the plant to lessen the effects of severe constipation. Threats to these subpopulations include depredation by feral pigs and competition from introduced plant species.

Where is Opuhe (Urera kaalae) located in the wild?


Opuhe grows on slopes and in gulches in diverse mesic forests.


Native individuals are found in nine subpopulations, dispersed throughout the southern slopes of the Wai`anae Mountains of O`ahu.

States & Provinces:

Opuhe can be found in Hawaii

Which CPC Partners conserve Opuhe (Urera kaalae)?

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

Nellie Sugii, Clarice Mendoza
  • 01/01/2010

The Opuhe is threatened by habitat degradation by feral pigs, competition from alien plant species, and fire.

Nellie Sugii, Clarice Mendoza
  • 01/01/2010

Nine remaining populations known, containing approximately 40 individuals.

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Taxon Urera kaalae
Authority Wawra
Family Urticaceae
CPC Number 4355
ITIS 19206
Duration Perennial
Common Names Opuhe
Associated Scientific Names Urera kaalae
Distribution Native individuals are found in nine subpopulations, dispersed throughout the southern slopes of the Wai`anae Mountains of O`ahu.
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1
Ecological Relationships


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