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Hibiscus brackenridgei subsp. molokaiana | by D.Eickhoff
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Hibiscus brackenridgei subsp. molokaiana

Maʻo hau hele

Malvaceae (Mallow family)

Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands (Oʻahu, extant; Molokaiʻi, extinct)

IUCN: Endangered

Oʻahu (Cultivated)


Maʻo hau hele was planted for an ornamental use by early Hawaiians.


The Hawaiian name maʻo hau hele is from a combination of three things: Hau is an introduced hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus), perhaps by early Hawaiians. Hele means "traveling." Maʻo means green, but the yellow flowers turn green when drying. Thus, maʻo hau hele literally means "green traveling hau."



The generic name Hibiscus is derived from hibiscos, the Greek name for mallow.


The specific epithet brackenridgei is named after William Dunlop Brackenridge (1810-1893), Scottish-American horticulturist and superintendent of the National Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.


The subspecies molokaiana is named after the island of its discovery, Molokaʻi, but ironically is now extinct there; extant on Oʻahu.


Hibiscus brackenridgei has been chosen to represent the official flower for the State of Hawaii. (See story at the website below)

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Taken on January 19, 2005