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Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus
 
Hibiscus kokio ssp. saiHibiscus kokio sspSaint Joihannesntjohnianus | Hawaiian Orange Hibiscus, St. John's Hibiscus, St. John's Rosemallow, Koki'o, Koki'o 'ula , Koki'o 'ula'ula , Maku

There are two subspecies of Hibiscus kokio, distinguished by several characteristics: Hibiscus kokio ssp. kokio has hairy leaves and stems, long bracts on the calyx, and red flowers, whereas Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus has fewer hairs on the leaves and stems, short bracts on the calyx, and orange, orange-red, or yellow flowers. Hibiscus kokio var. kahilii currently seems to refer to a naturally occurring pink-flowered form. For more information on Hibiscus kokio var. kahilii, see: Endemic Pink Hibiscus Hails From Kauai

Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus (formerly Hibiscus saintjohnianus and Hibiscus roetae) is endemic to the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. The name saintjohnianus commemorates one of Hawaii's most well known botanists, Harold St. John.

Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus grows as a shrub or a small tree ranging from 3 to 7m in height. The solitary flowers which distinguish this subspecies are usually orange to orangish red, or yellow, usually 4.5-7 cm long. Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus is found on Kauai, restricted to the northwest of the island, between 150 and 890m in elevation. There are approximately 10 extant populations containing several thousand plants. Found naturally in moist forests and shrub lands, most often on cliffs, sometimes on gulch slopes. Threats include feral goats and pigs, deer, and various alien plants.

Reference: Hibiscus kokio is variable in vegetative and floral characters throughout its range. Variations are largely recurrent among the populations of each island except in the coastal valleys of northwestern Kaua'i, the range of subsp. saintjohnianus. Some of the more striking forms are cultivated and have been used in breeding cultivars of H. rosa-sinensis (Wilcox & Holt, 1913; Bates, 1965). Subspecies kokio (including H. kahilii, H. kokio var. pekeloi, H. k. var. pukoonis, H. oahuensis, H. ula), with calyx stellate pubescent and flowers red, occurs in dry to wet forest, 70-800 m, on Kaua'i, O'ahu, Moloka'i, Maui, and presumably Hawai'i, whereas subsp. saintjohnianus [including Hibiscus roetae] has calyx predominantly glandular pubescent, flowers usually orange to orangish red or even yellow, and tends to have less stem and leaf pubescence and shorter involucral bracts relative to the length of the calyx. It occurs in dry to mesic forest, 150-890(-1,100)m, on northwestern Kaua'i.

Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai'i. VOLUME 1
by Warren Lambert Wagner
University of Hawai'i Press, Bishop Museum Press, 1999

Reference: 115. KOKIO or PUAALOALO. (Hibiscus)
This plant is very much the same as the foreign hibiscus introduced into the islands. There are two varieties and these are known by their flowers. The one is of a reddish color and the other is yellowish. The medicinal value of both is the same. The leaves and the buds are largely used for softening the contents of the stomach and bowels, especially in cases of constipation.

For children, the bottom of the buds are chewed and fed to them by their mothers. For the adults, the young leaves are chewed and swallowed. The slimy juice that comes from the leaves or from the buds acts as a gentle laxative for the system and is very helpful for general debility and for a run-down condition.

Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value
by D. M. Kaaiakamanu, J. K. Akina
Published by The Minerva Group, Inc., 2003

 

 

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