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Abutilon menziesii
Alternative Botanical Names
None found.
Common Names
Ko'oloa 'ula
Red 'Ilima
Potential or Traditional Uses
Photo of Abutilon menziesii flower
Abutilon menziesii is a spreading shrub that grows from 6 to 10 feet tall and about as wide. The branches are covered with dense hairs and appear velvety. The heart-shaped, silvery leaves have toothed edges and vary in length from 1 to 4 inches. The leaves have 1 to 2 inch long stems that allow them to flutter in the wind.

The single flowers are maroon to pink with a yellow center and yellow staminal column; they hang down like bells from the leaf axils. On cultivated plants, flowering occurs throughout the year except during the hottest months. (Koob 2000; Wagner 1990)

Habitat and Geographic Range
Abutilon menziesii is an endangered Hawaiian endemic shrub. It grows in dry forests at elevations of 650 to 1700 feet on Lana'i, East Maui, and the island of Hawai'i. There is a population on O'ahu as well, but it is not known if it is native to that island. (Koob 2000; Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
The hard seed capsule of Abutilon menziesii is pale brown, fuzzy, and 3/8 inch long. It contains 18 to 24 small, dark brown seeds. When the capsule opens, the seeds are scattered by the wind shaking the plant. of Abutilon menziesii hybridizes with other species of Abutilon so collect seeds from plants that are distant from other Abutilon species.

If seeds do not shake out of the dry capsule, the capsule can be opened with a knife and the seeds removed. Abutilon sp. have a high germination rate (95%). Koob does not recommend soaking the seeds, but most other sources state that soaking shortens the germination time from 3 to 6 months for untreated seed to 2 to 4 weeks for soaked seeds. Soaking recommendations vary from 1 to 24 hours using either room temperature or hot water. Soak the seeds until they sink and disgard any floaters.

Sow seeds on the surface or up to 1/4 inch deep in a well-draining medium such as 3 parts #2 perlite to 1 part #4 Sunshine Mix or 1 part peat to 1 part perlite to 1 part soil. Koob suggests potting mix. Keep the medium moist but not wet and put the containers in part shade until the seeds germinate.

Seed should be dried before being stored. Storage recommendations vary; silica gel and refrigeration may improve the length of time seeds remain viable. Koob states that seeds in cold storage are viable for several years though they may take longer to germinate than fresh seed does. (Bornhorst 1996; Koob 2000; Stratton 1998; Wagner 1990)

Propagation by Cuttings
Abutilon menziesii can be grown from cuttings, but it is difficult. (Koob 2000)
Propagation by Division
Not applicable.
Propagation by Air Layers
Abutilon menziesii can be grown by air-layering. (Bornhorst 1996)
Propagation by Grafting
No information located to date.
Propagation by Tissue Culture
No information located to date.
Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 37.

Koob, Gregory A. 2000. It's not really "Red 'Ilima," but that's what people call it - Abutilon menziesii. Hawai'i Horticulture 3 (12):9-10.

Stratton, Lisa, Leslie Hudson, Nova Suenaga, and Barrie Morgan. 1998. Overview of Hawaiian dry forest propagation techniques. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 37 (2):13, 15-27.

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. 873.

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The image in this record is used with permission from Dr. Gerald Carr's Web site "Hawaiian Native Plants" at

Last updated:
10 February 2001

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