Common Name: kokiʻo keʻokeʻo (“kokiʻo that is white like the shine of silver”).
Hibiscus arnottianus is one of the hibiscus species native to the Hawaiian Islands. Hibiscus arnottianus is a Hawaiian endemic plant with one endangered subspecies. It is native to the moist to wet forests of the mountains of Moloka’i and O’ahu. Hibiscus arnottianus have used in the development of many of the Hibiscus rosasinensis varieties. Hibiscus arnottianus is an endemic species of hibiscus with white flowers. Three subspecies are recognized. This species is watchfully linked to H. waimeae , and the two are among the very few members of the genus with fragrant flowers.
Hibiscus arnottianus is a shrub or small tree generally 15 to 20 feet in height though a few individuals will grow to 30 feet tall. The leaves of Hibiscus arnottianus are oval with a smooth or slightly toothed edges and smooth upper surface. The leaves are 4 to 6 inches long and often have red veins and stems. The single white flowers are appeared as a pinwheel shaped, up to 4 inches across, and borne at the ends of the branches. The staminal column is pink to red (except in subspecies immaculatus which has a white column). The flowers of Hibiscus arnottianus may be slightly pink or may age to pale pink, and are slightly fragrant.
Three subspecies of Hibiscus arnottianus are documented. Arnottianus is from Wai’anae and eastern Ko’olau mountains of O’ahu. Subspecies arnottianus has smooth leaves 1 1/2 to 4 inches long. Immaculatus which is very rare and endangered and native to Moloka’i . Subspecies immaculatus has a white staminal column and leaves with rounded teeth. Punaluuensis , is also native to O’ahu. This is the most common Subspecies punaluuensis is is robust with leaves 4 to 10 inches long. (Criley 1998; Criley 1999; Koob 1998; Rauch 1997; Wagner 1990).
1. Criley, Richard A. Propagation of indigenous and endemic ornamental Hawaiian
plants. Combined Proceedings of the International Plant Propagators’ Society 1998, 48:669-674.
2. Criley, Richard A. Aloha Hawai’i. American Nurseryman 190 (3):50-61.
3. Koob, Gregory A. 1998. Koki’o ke’oke’o: a native white hibiscus. 1999, Hawai’i Horticulture 1(12):3-6.
4. Rauch, Fred D., Heidi L. Bornhorst, Rhonda Stibbe, and David Hensley. 1997. Oahu white hibiscus, Ornamentals and Flowers OF-22. Honolulu: Cooperative Extension Service, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
5. Wagner, Warren L., Darrel R. Herbst, and S. H. Sohmer. 1990. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai’i. 2 vols., Bishop Museum Special Publication 83. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press and Bishop Museum Press. p. 882-883.