Scientific Name: Wikstroemia oahuense
Endemic: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui and Lanai
Description: Tall shrubs or small trees up to 12 ft high with very few braches. Bark is thin and medium to dark brown with white leaf scars. Leaves vary greatly but this form has larger, narrowly elliptic leaves that are light green. Flowers form in clusters and are yellow to bright green. Once pollinated, they form orange fruit with a single black seed.
Distribution: This species of ‘akia kuahiwi is found on the islands of Kaua’i, O’ahu, Maui, Moloka’i and Lana’i from lowland wet and hala forests to mesic forests, bog’s and ridges.
Cultural Uses: The bark of this plant was stripped to make very strong cordage. Some sources also list it as a plant used to make kapa. It was also used medicinally to treat asthma and also as a laxative. Many species of ‘akia and ‘akia kuahiwi can be used to perform a fishing method called hola to stupefy fish. Various parts of the plant were mixed with chum and spread through the water. When fish ate the mixture they became intoxicated which made them easier to scoop with a net or to spear. A concoction to execute criminals was also made from mixing the bark and roots of ‘akia kuahiwi with other plants. In addition to all of these uses the bright fruit were often strung into lei.
Landscape Uses and Care: This plant looks best when treated as a specimen plant but make sure to include other plants around it since it is pretty skinny looking in nature. Other darker ground covers or lower shrubs like the more common ‘akia (W. uva-ursi) would look nice around it. Few pests bother this plant and once established in the ground it requires very little watering. Right now Hui Ku Maoli Ola native plant nursery has beautiful large specimens about 5 feet tall in 3 gallon pots for only $20.
Extra Info: Another name for this plant is Aoaoa.Akia Kuahiwi