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Plectranthus parviflorus
Alternative Botanical Names
Plectranthus australis
Common Names
'Ala 'ala wai nui wahine
'Ala 'ala wai nui
'Ala 'ala wai nui pua ki
Potential or Traditional Uses
Photo of Plectranthus parviflorus
Plectranthus parviflorus is an spreading herbaceous perennial with a tuberous base. At lower elevations, the plants can reach 3 feet in height, but are generally only 6 to 8 inches tall. The fuzzy, oval leaves are light green, fleshy, have scalloped edges, and are 1 to 1/2 inches long. The small, light blue flowers are borne on short spikes throughout the year. (Koob 1998; NTBG 1994; Wagner 1990)
Habitat and Geographic Range
Plectranthus parviflorus is indigenous to Hawai'i and also occurs in other parts of Polynesia, in Australia, and in Malesia. Plectranthus parviflorus occurs on dry, exposed, often rocky locations on all the main Hawaiian islands, but it is not currently found on Kaho'olawe. It grows from sea level to 4,250 feet. (Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
The fruits of Plectranthus parviflorus are small brown nuts less than 1/4 inch long. To collect them, remove the flower spikes from the plants after they flowers have fallen off and place them on a piece of paper or in a paper bag.

Sow the seeds on the surface of moist sterile media such as 2 parts potting mix to 1 part perlite. Do not cover the seeds. Koob states that germination takes from 2 week to 1 month; NTBG suggests 1 to 3 months. (Koob 1998; NTBG 1994)

Propagation by Cuttings
Plectranthus parviflorus grows quickly and easily from cuttings. Use tip cuttings about 4 inches long with 3 or 4 nodes. NTBG suggests taking the cuttings in the morning. Stick the cutting with at least one node beneath the surface of a well drained propagation medium. Koob recommends coarse sand or vermiculite; NTBG suggests 1 part potting mix to 2 part perlite, or a mix of 1 part potting mix to 1 part fine cinder. NTBG states that rooting hormones are not necessary and that cuttings root in 1 to 3 months. (Koob 1998; NTBG 1994)
Propagation by Division
No information located to date.
Propagation by Air Layers
Not applicable.
Propagation by Grafting
Not applicable.
Propagation by Tissue Culture
No information located to date.
Koob, Gregory A. 1998. 'Ala'ala wai nui wahine: one of the Hawaiian mints. Hawai'i Horticulture 1 (10):10-12.

National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG). 1994. 'Ala 'ala wai nui [Plectranthus parviflorus]. In Native Hawaiian plant information sheets. Lawai, Kauai: Hawaii Plant Conservation Center. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Unpublished internal papers.

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. 827-828.

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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:
4 April 2000

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