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Scaevola sericea
Alternative Botanical Names
Lobelia taccada
Scaevola fauriei
Scaevola frutescens
Scaevola koenigii
Scaevola plumerioides
Scaevola taccada

Common Names
Beach Naupaka
Naupaka kahakai
Naupaka kai
Potential or Traditional Uses
Lei (Flower or Seed)
Photo of Scaevola sericea
Scaevola sericea is a dense, spreading shrub that generally grows up to 3 feet tall, but can be up to 10 feet tall and 6 to 15 feet wide. The medium green leaves are waxy and fleshy. They grow from 2 to 8 inches long, are much narrower than they are wide, and are broader at the tip than the base. Often the edges of the leaves roll under.

The flowers are white or cream colored, often with purple streaks, and have a pleasant fragrance. They have an irregular shape with all all five petals on one side of the flower making them appear to have been torn in half. The flowers grow in small clusters from between the leaves at the ends of the stems. (Koob 2000; NTBG 1994; Rauch 1997; Wagner 1990)

Habitat and Geographic Range
Scaevola sericea is an indigenous shrub and is common in hot dry coastal areas on most of the Hawaiian islands except for some of the Northwest islands. It is also found throughout the tropical and subtropical Pacific and Indian Ocean islands and coasts. (Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
The fruits of Scaevola sericea are fleshy berries. They are white, oblong, and about 1/2 inch long. The seeds are beige, corky and ridged. The inside of the fruit is corky and the fruits are buoyant. They can float for months in the ocean and still germinate after having been in salt water for up to a year. One study showed that the seeds germinated best after 250 days in salt water. (Bornhorst 1996)

It is easy to grow Scaevola sericea from seed even without a salt water soak. The seeds need to be removed from the pulp before planting. Lilleeng-Rosenberger suggests ripening the fruit in a plastic bag to soften the pulp. After this, the seeds can be removed from the pulp more easily. This can be done by rubbing the fruits in a strainer under running water. Wash the remaining seeds thoroughly. At this point they can be dried on a paper towel for storing.

Soak the seeds in cool water for 24 hours. Plant them about 1/2 inch deep in a well drained potting mix. Koob writes that untreated seeds can take up to 3 months to germinate. (Koob 2000; Lilleeng-Rosenberger 1998; NTBG 1994; Rauch 1997; Wagner 1990)

Propagation by Cuttings
Scaevola sericea is easy to propagate from cuttings. Even large cuttings up to 3 feet long can be rooted. After the cuttings have been made, remove all of the lower leaves and cut the upper leaves in half to minimize water loss. Plant the cuttings in a light well drained potting mix or sandy soil. Keep the medium moist by watering once a day. The cuttings should be rooted in 2 to 3 months. (Bornhorst 1996; Koob 2000; NTBG 1994)
Propagation by Division
Not applicable.
Propagation by Air Layers
Scaevola sericea can be grown from air layers. (Bornhorst 1996; NTBG 1994)
Propagation by Grafting
No information located to date.
Propagation by Tissue Culture
In work on another species of Scaevola, S. coriacea Lynch tested explants from apical and axillary buds. Best results were obtained for explants which were grown on half-strength modified (vitamins added) Murashige and Scoog medium for at least 9 weeks. These plantlets were then transfered to a medium containing the growth hormone 6-benzyladenine (BA) at a rate of 1.0 mg/liter. The plantlets spent 5 to 7 weeks on this medium before being transferred back to the basal medium. The hormone affected many of the plantlets which showed abnormal growth patterns such as thickened stems or small, cupped leaves. However, these effects disappeared within the first year of growth. (Lynch1997)
Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 43-45.

Koob, Gregory A. 2000. Lovers separated: the beach and mountain naupaka. Hawai'i Horticulture 3 (4):11-14.

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

Lynch, Kay. 1997. Toward a protocol for in vitro propagation of Scaevola coriacea (Goodeniaceae). Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 36 (3/4):64-65.

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. Naupaka. 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. Beach naupaka, Ornamentals and Flowers OF-14. 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.)

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. 788-789.

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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:
5 April 2001

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