Hawaii Hala Pepe / Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

Hawaii Hala Pepe (Pleomele hawaiiensis)

Full view of flowering trees. Note the large flower panicles. Photo Credit: Peter Van Dyke
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Asparagaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 132019
  • Lifeform: Subshrub, Tree
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/05/1993

This species is a member of the agave family, and historically had many uses by native Hawaiians. Its large yellow flowers were used for leis, wood was used for carved images and hula offerings by native Hawaiians. Currently, these plants are experiencing poor reproductive success in the wild, which may be attributed to a number of causes. Fortunately, germination and cutting methods have proven successful in greenhouse settings. This has the potential to provide large numbers of plants for use by the general public as a landscaping plant and, of equal importance, to supplement wild populations. Unfortunately, the seeds of the hala pepe do not store well, making seed banking an unviable option in any attempt to save this species from extinction. (HNPP Database 2002) Hala pepe is a branching tree that can grow up to 20 ft (6 m) tall. Large leaves (up to 15 inches long) cluster spirally at branch tips and large cluster of flowers with 3 yellow sepals and three yellow petals that are constricted at the base. Fruit appear as red berries that are up to 0.5 inches long. All of these characteristics have made this species a sought-after ornamental species.

Where is Hawaii Hala Pepe (Pleomele hawaiiensis) located in the wild?


This species typically grows on old aa lava flows at elevations of 1000-2700 ft (300-800 m) in diverse lowland dry forests. (USFWS 1996)Associated species include: ohia, lama, mamane, Sydrax odoratum (alahee), huehue, naio, olopua, Nototrichium sandwicense, Sida fallax, Erythrina sandwicensis, Santalum sp., Osteomeles anthyllidifolia, Caesalpinia kavaiensis, Colubrina oppositifolia, Neraudia ovata, Capparis sanwichiana, Bidens micrantha ssp. ctenophylla and Nothocestrum breviflorum (USFWS 1996).


This species is found on the leeward side of the island of Hawaii. (Wagner et al. 1999)

States & Provinces:

Hawaii Hala Pepe can be found in Hawaii

Which CPC Partners conserve Hawaii Hala Pepe (Pleomele hawaiiensis)?

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 the leeward side of the island of Hawaii. Fewer than 500 plants remain and regeneration is very poor. The species faces the many threats that endanger many native plants of the dry lowlands, including agriculture, development, fire, and alien plants and animals.

  • 01/01/2010

As stated by the Fish and Wildlife Service at the time of listing in 1996 (USFWS 1996), threats include: Residential and recreational development Habitat destruction by cattle, pigs, sheep and goats Fire (destroyed a large part of a Puu Waawaa popul

  • 01/01/2010

There are eight populations known to exist containing at total of 250 to 300 individuals. One to three are in the Puu Waawaa region of Hualalai on state-leased and private land, two are in the Kaloko/Kaloao area on private land, two are in the Kapua/Kahuku are on private land, and one is on Holei Pali within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (USFWS 1995)

  • 01/01/2010

None known.

  • 01/01/2010

This species occurs naturally on a privately-owned site. A cattle fence has been in place here since 1950, and the site has been actively managed since 1996. At this site, management has actively removed the invasive grass, Pennisetum setaceum, thus reducing wildfire risk in the area, and has also actively removed goats, feral hogs, stray cattle, and controlled the rodent population. Additionally, numerous native understory plants have been planted. (USFWS 2002)

  • 01/01/2010

Monitoring of known populations is needed in order to determine why reproduction is not successful in most population. Relocation of historically known populations is possible. Protection of known populations, including fencing to reduce the impacts of introduced animals and invasive species removal to reduce the threat of detrimental wildfires.

  • 01/01/2010

Propagation and maintenance of ex situ plants should continue. More research is needed on long term seed storage techniques.


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Taxon Pleomele hawaiiensis
Authority O. Degener & I. Degener
Family Asparagaceae
CPC Number 7636
ITIS 504448
Duration Perennial
Common Names hala pepe | halapepe | Hawai'i hala pepe
Associated Scientific Names Pleomele hawaiiensis | Dracaena konaensis
Distribution This species is found on the leeward side of the island of Hawaii. (Wagner et al. 1999)
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1
Ecological Relationships

Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting
Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hawaii Reinforcement 2004
Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hawaii Reintroduction 2004
Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hawaii Reintroduction 2013
Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hawaii Reinforcement 2014

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