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Nothocestrum latifolium
Alternative Botanical Names
Northocestrum subcordatum
Common Names
Potential or Traditional Uses
Lei (Flower or Seed)
Photo of Nothocestrum latifolium flowers and foliage
Nothocestrum latifolium is a small tree growing to 30 feet tall. The trunk is gnarled with rigid, upright branches. The young stems are covered with a yellow hairs and which disappear as they mature.

The thick, oval leaves range in size from 1 1/2 to almost 8 inches long and 1 1/4 to 2 3/4 inches wide. They are dark green with pale veins. Young leaves are fuzzy becoming smooth as the leaves age. The leaves are generally clustered towards the ends of the branches. Nothocestrum latifolium is seasonally deciduous. Rock states that the leaves drop in March and the trees become almost bare. The trees have the most foliage in the winter, especially in November.

The greenish-yellow flowers form in small clusters on short branches. Each flower is about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long and 1/4 to 3/8 inch in diameter. (Rock 1913; Wagner 1990)

Habitat and Geographic Range
Nothocestrum latifolium is a small, endemic tree found on Kaua'i, O'ahu, Moloka'i, Lana'i, and Maui. It grows at dry to moist forests at elevations ranging from 1,500 to 5,000 feet. It is often found growing on dry leeward hills and on a'a lava. (Rock 1913; Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
The fruit of Nothocestrum latifolium is a small, round, berry less than 1/4 inch in diameter. The color is yellowish orange.

Stratton recommends that the seeds of Nothocestrum latifolium be cleaned by rubbing them between your hands, or through a screen or colander. No pretreatment is required. Use a well drained planting medium such as a mixture of 3 parts #2 perlite to 1 part Sunshine Mix #3 or a mixture of 4 parts cinder to 1 part soil. Sprinkle the small seeds on the surface of moistened medium in a shallow container. Keep the medium moist and shaded until the seeds germinate. Germination takes 8 to 16 weeks; the seedlings are slow growing.

For the related species, Nothocestrum breviflorum, Culliney and Koebele recommend putting the seeds in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to disinfect them. They warn not to leave the seeds of this species in the solution for more than 10 minutes. The bleach treatment is followed by a 24 hour tap water soak. Use just enough water to cover the seeds. They sow the seeds on the top of moistened vermiculite and cover them with a layer of moistened green sphagnum moss. As soon as the seeds begin to germinate, remove most of the moss layer. With this treatment, seeds of N. breviflorum germinated in 2 to 4 weeks.

Cleaned, air dried seeds can be stored in a sealed glass contained in the refrigerator. (Culliney 1999; Rock 1913; Stratton 1998; Wagner 1990)

Propagation by Cuttings
No information located to date.
Propagation by Division
Not applicable.
Propagation by Air Layers
No information located to date.
Propagation by Grafting
No information located to date.
Propagation by Tissue Culture
No information located to date.
Culliney, John L., and Bruce P. Koebele. 1999. A native Hawaiian garden: how to grow and care for island plants. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. p. 41-43

Rock, Joseph F. 1913. The indigenous trees of the Hawaiian islands. Honolulu, T.H.: Published under patronage. p. 421-423.

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. 1263.

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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:
18 September 2001

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