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Coprosma ernodeoides | by D.Eickhoff
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Coprosma ernodeoides

Kūkaenēnē, ʻAiakanēnē or Black-fruited coprosma

Rubiaceae (Coffee family)

Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands (Maui and Hawaiʻi Island)

Haleakalā National Park, East Maui


Another view


Pistillate (female) flowers




The thirteen Hawaiian endemic species of Coprosma belong to Rubiaceae or Coffee family and all appear to be common to fairly common in their habitat. Kūkaenēnē is the only black fruited species of Coprosma in the Hawaiian Islands.


Early Hawaiians made a yellow dye from the inner bark and the fruits were used to make a dark purple or black dye.


The leaves flowers and black fruits were also strung on lei.


The genus name Coprosma means "smelling like dung." By coincidence, the Hawaiian name kūkaenēnē literally means "nēnē dung." This refers not to the smell but to the dung-like appearance of the dark fruits, which do in fact resemble nēnē droppings (kūkae). Nevertheless, nēnē (Branta sandvicensis), or Hawaiian goose, do eat the fruits as part of their natural diet. So then, one might say that when kūkaenēnē is eaten by nēnē and they deposit their kūkae, kūkaenēnē is spread throughout the nēnē habitat!


Interestingly, another name for Coprosma ernodeoides is ʻaiakanēnē, literally meaning "food of the nēnē."



The generic name is from the Greek kopros, dung, and osme, smell referring to the dung-like or rotten cabbage smell (methanethiol) given off when the leaves of some species are crushed.


The specific epithet ernodeoides means resembling Ernodea, a genus of plants in the same family (Rubiaceae) as Coprosma ernodeoides.

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Taken on March 13, 2009