Common names for Scaevola species
include scaevolas, fan-flowers, half-flowers, and naupaka, the
plant's Hawaiian name. The flowers are shaped as if they have been
cut in half. Consequently, the generic name means "left-handed" in
Latin. Many legends have been told to explain the formation of the
naupaka's unique half flowers. In one version a woman tears the
flower in half after a quarrel with her lover. The Gods, angered,
turn all naupaka flowers into half flowers and the two lovers
remained separated while the man is destined to search in vain for
another whole flower.
Scaevola is the only Goodeniaceae genus that is widespread outside
of Australia. In at least six separate dispersals, about 40 species
have spread throughout the Pacific Basin, with a few reaching the
tropical coasts of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Beach Naupaka (Scaevola taccada synonym S. sericea) occurs
throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans and is considered an
invasive species in Florida, USA, and in some islands of the
Caribbean including the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas. Beachberry
or Inkberry (Scaevola plumieri) is widespread along the Atlantic
coast of the tropical Americas and Africa; however, it is becoming
rarer in areas where S. taccada is displacing native coastal plants.
Most Australian Scaevola have dry fruits and sprawling, herbaceous
to shrubby habits. By contrast, nearly all species outside Australia
have shrub habits with fleshy fruit making dispersal by frugivores