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Alyxia oliviformis
Alternative Botanical Names
Alyxia myrtillifolia
Alyxia olivaeformis
Alyxia sulcata
Gynopogon olivaeformis

Common Names
Potential or Traditional Uses
Lei (Flower or Seed)
Photo of Alyxia oliviformis flower
Alyxia oliviformis is generally a twining vine or a sprawling shrub. The leaves are smooth and glossy, dark green on top and paler underneath. The leaves can be up to 3 1/2 inches long and occur in groups of two, three, or four. The leaves and bark have a pleasant fragrance which is released when they are crushed or twisted. The tiny flowers are greenish to yellowish white. (NTBG 1998; Wagner 1990)
Habitat and Geographic Range
Alyxia oliviformis is an Hawaiian endemic plant. It grows in a wide variety of habitats ranging from dry areas to wet forests. It occurs from near sea level to elevations of 6,500 feet. It is currently found on all the main islands except Kaho'olawe and Ni'ihau. It is likely that Alyxia oliviformis grew on those islands as well, but has become extinct due to extensive habitat disturbance. (Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
The fruits of Alyxia oliviformis are oval and dark purple when ripe. They are divided into two, three, or four segments each of which contains a seed.

Removing the seeds from the pulp greatly enhances germination percentage and rate. Lilleeng-Rosenberger (1998) 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 crushing the fruits and soaking them in cold water from 24 hours; Mersino recommends a 12 hour soak. Discard the fruit pieces and any seeds that float. Wash the remaining seeds thoroughly. At this point they can be dried on a pepr towel for planting or storing.

Plant the cleaned seeds on the surface of a sterile well-drained mix such as 3 parts perlite and 1 part potting soil. Place the pots in a covered location and mist every other day. Depulped Alyxia oliviformis seeds have a high germination rate and generally begin sprouting in about a month and may continue to germinate for 4 1/2 months. Lilleeng-Rosenberger (1996) reports 74% germination for a batch of seeds soaked in cold water for 24 hours as part of of the depulping process and 82% for a batch soaked for 3 hours.

A study done by Tanabe of the effects of pre-plant soaking and bottom heat on seed germination supports the recommendation to depulp the seeds and shows that soaking to facilitate depulping will not adversely inhibit germination. On this work, soaking the seeds for 72, 96, and 120 hours without aeration gave similar germination percentages as depulped, unsoaked seed. Seeds which were soaked in aerated water for 96 hours had the highest germination, 80% at 10 weeks. In these experiments, the soaking water was changed daily and the seeds were planted in vermiculite in a shaded greenhouse. In the bottom heat portion of the experiment, the best germination was obtained with unheated planting medium; heating the medium to 88 degrees F damaged the seeds drastically delaying and reducing germination.

Investigation of the effect of pre-plant storage temperature of depulped Alyxia oliviformis seeds showed that the earliest and the best overall germination was obtained when seeds were stored at 43 degrees F (household refrigerator temperature). Twenty percent of seeds stored for up to 7 days at this temperature germinated in 4 weeks. At the end of 10 weeks, 67% of the seeds had germinated which was the highest germination percentage for the temperatures studied. Storage at 77 degrees F for seven days reduced germination rate and overall percentage. Storage at 86 degrees F for 7 days resulted in very low germination percentage and storage at 95 degrees F for 7 days resulted in the death of the seeds. In this study, vermiculite was used as a germination medium.

Tanabe also has shown that plant growth regulators can increase germination in Alyxia oliviformis . He soaked Alyxia oliviformis seeds in kinetin, potassium nitrate, and two concentrations of giberellic acid (GA) for 24, 48, and 72 hours. All of the 48 and 72 hour treatments increased the percent germination. Giberellic acid (GA) at a rate of 1000 ppm gave the best increase total germination percentage. Depulped seed which had been soaked in 1000 ppm GA for 48 hours had a 97% germination rate after 13 weeks compared to 3% for untreated seed and 40% for untreated, depulped seed for the same time period. (Bornhorst 1996; Lilleeng-Rosenberger 1998; Mersino 1998; NTBG 1998; Tanabe 1980; Tanabe 1982a; Tanabe 1983; Tanabe et al 1979; Wagner 1990)

Propagation by Cuttings
Alyxia oliviformis is generally grown from seed. However, research has shown that high rooting percentages can be obtained from single node hardwood cuttings. Tanabe used 4 inch long single node cuttings. The leaf surface of the cuttings was reduced 50% and the cuttings were rooted in No. 2 vermiculite in a shaded greenhouse where temperatures ranged from 68 to 80 degrees F. The flats were misted daily. After 11 weeks, 52% of the untreated hardwood (fully matured wood) cuttings had rooted while only 24% of the untreated semi-hardwood cuttings had rooted. The highest rooting percentage, 82%, was obtained from cuttings treated with a 5 second dip in 3000 ppm indolebutyric acid (IBA). The higher rate of 8000 ppm IBA resulted in only 64% rooting. (Tanabe 1982b)
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.
Bornhorst, Heed L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 50-51.

Leonhardt, Ken. 1998. On maile... Landscape, Floriculture, and Ornamentals News (3):14.

Lilleeng-Rosenberger, Kerin. 1996. Plant propagation notebook. Unpublished materials: National Tropical Botanical Garden.

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

Mersino, Edwin. "Maile info." Posted 9 April 1998. Online. Accessed 10 April 1998.

National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG). 1998. Native Hawaiian plant: Maile. In Native Hawaiian plant information sheets. Lawai, Kauai: Hawaii Plant Conservation Center. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Unpublished internal papers.

Tanabe, Michael J. 1980. Effect of depulping and growth regulators on seed germination of Alyxia olivaeformis. HortScience 15 (2):199-200.

Tanabe, Michael J. 1982a. Maile seed germination studies on vine-dried seeds and effects of pre-plant storage temperature on germination. Horticulture Digest (63):4-5.

Tanabe, Michael J. 1982b. Single node stem propagation of Alyxia olivaeformis. HortScience 17 (1):50.

Tanabe, Michael J. 1983. Maile seed germination as affected by preplant soaking in water with and without aeration and bottom heat. Combined Proceedings of the International Plant Propagators' Society 32:333-336.

Tanabe, Michael J., and George M. Hirowatari. 1979. Maile seed germination. Horticulture Digest (47):3.

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. 214-215.

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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:
19 August 2001

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