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Sida fallax
Alternative Botanical Names
Anoda ovata
Sida cordifolia
Sida diellii
Sida ledyardii
Sida meyeniana
Sida nelsonii
Sida sandwicensis

Common Names
'Ilima papa
Potential or Traditional Uses
Lei (Flower or Seed)
Photo of Sida fallax flowers
Sida fallax is an extremely variable plant. Wagner et al treats it as a single genus, but notes that it "may represent a species complex." Individual plants of this species vary greatly in height, density of hairs, leaf size and shape, and flower color and size.

Sida fallax ranges in habit from a prostrate to an erect shrub. The prostrate forms, called 'ilima papa, are most often 6 to 12 inches tall and grow in coastal areas. As a shrub, Sida fallax is usually under 5 feet tall, but can sometimes grow to 10 feet tall. The 2 to 3 inch leaves are oval to almost round with a pointed end and toothed or jagged edges. The upper surfaces of the leaves are bright green and the lower surfaces generally are densely hairy giving the leaves a lighter color and a velvety appearance.

The single tubular flower has 5 petals, is yellow to orange, and is about 1 inch in diameter.They most often occur towards the ends of the branches. Sida fallax blooms throughout the year. (Bornhorst 1996; Criley 1998; Rauch 1997; Wagner 1990)

Habitat and Geographic Range
Sida fallax is indigenous to Hawai'i commonly occurring on all the main islands and also on Midway Atoll and Nihoa. It is also widespread on islands across the Pacific to China. In Hawai'i, Sida fallax grows on rocky or sandy coasts, on raised limestone reefs, lava fields, and dry to moist forests, rarely all the way up to the wet forest habitats. It occurs from sea level to 6,500 feet. Various forms of Sida fallax tend occur in specific habitats in the Hawaiian islands. The prostrate forms occur on arid exposed coastal locations. Shrubbier forms are generally found in moist woodland habitats. (Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
The small brown to black seeds of Sida fallax are contained in pale brown to black capsules. Sida fallax grows easily from seed.

To remove the seeds from the capsule, air dry them at room temperature in a bowl or paper bag. Carefully rub the capsules through a strainer with the appropriate size mesh. The seeds should fall through leaving the debris in the strainer.

Stratton et al recommends soaking the cleaned seed in hot or room temperature water for 1 to 24 hours. Criley recommends either a 24 hour soak or scarification.

Plant the seeds in a well drained mix such as 3 parts perlite to 1 part sterile potting soil or 3 parts #2 perlite to 1 part Sunshine Mix #4. Keep the medium moist until germination. Place them in a shady covered location to maintain soil moisture and control rain damage. Can also be germinated in full sun if adequate soil moisture is maintained. Germination time is erratic and can take from 10 days to 3 months. (Mew gives germination time of 3 to 8 months.) Germination rates are also extremely variable.

Seeds of Sida fallax can be stored after being cleaned and air dried. Place them in a paper bag or envelope and put them in an airtight container with desiccant. Stratton suggests storing the dried seeds in a cool place at 25% relative humidity. Yoshinaga's tests indicate that seeds stored at 39 degrees F and 10% humidity retained some viability for 2 years. (Criley 1999; Lilleng-Rosenberger 1998; Mew 1987; NTBG 1994; Stratton 1998; Yoshinaga 1998)

Propagation by Cuttings
Sida fallax can be grown from cuttings. Criley recommends using a rooting hormone of 2,000 parts per million (ppm) indolebutyric acid (IBA) in either a liquid or a talc dust form. He suggests either 1 part coarse perlite to 1 part vermiculite or 100% vermiculite as a rooting medium and rooting the cuttings under 30% shade. He cautions, however, that extremely wet conditions, such as often found when using intermittent misting systems, causes leaf drop and poor rooting.

Boche reports 85% success rate using stem and tip cuttings grown in 50% shade using a medium of 3 parts peat moss to 1 part vermiculite. Stratton reports 80 to 90% success rates from cuttings but does not detail the procedures used. (Boche 1992; Criley 1999; Stratton 1998)

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.
Boche, Kenneth. 1992. Unpublished paper on propagation of selected native Hawaiian and Polynesian introduced plants: Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1990. Low-growing native Hawaiian plants for your garden. The Bulletin of the National Tropical Botanical Garden 20 (4):86-89.

Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 26.

Criley, Richard A. 1998. Propagation of indigenous and endemic ornamental Hawaiian plants. Combined Proceedings of the International Plant Propagators' Society 48:669-674.

Criley, Richard A. 1999. Aloha Hawai'i. American Nurseryman 190 (3):50-61.

Lilleeng-Rosenberger, Kerin. 1998. Propagation techniques for native Hawaiian plants. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 37 (2):33-35.

Mew, Randal K. T. 1987. Cultivation and propagation of selected coastal plants at the Waikiki Aquarium. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 26 (2):27-32.

Moriarty, Dan. 1975. Native Hawaiian plants for tropical seaside landscaping. The Bulletin of the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden 5 (3):41-48.

National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG). 1994. 'Ilima. In Native Hawaiian plant information sheets. Lawai, Kauai: Hawaii Plant Conservation Center. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Unpublished internal papers.

Rauch, Fred D., Heidi L. Bornhorst, and David L. Hensley. 1997. 'Ilima, Ornamentals and Flowers, OF-15. Honolulu: Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa. (Also available as a PDF file at Free CTAHR Publications.)

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. 897-898.

Yoshinaga, Alvin. 1998. Storing seeds of some natiave rain forest plants: some simple methods. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 37 (2):28-32.

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Last updated:
17 August 2001

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