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Canavalia galeata
Alternative Botanical Names
Canavalia gaudichaudii
Dolichos galeata

Common Names
Potential or Traditional Uses
Photo of Canavalia galeata
Canavalia galeata is a perennial vine. Each leaf consists of 3 oval, pointed leaflets up to 6 inches long. The leaflets are glossy green and have a papery texture. The new leaves are slightly reddish.

The flowers resemble those of garden peas. They are dark purple with white patches at the throat and form in clusters up to 4 inches long. (Culliney 1999; Wagner 1990)

Habitat and Geographic Range
Canavalia galeata is endemic to the island of O'ahu. It usually found in moist forests, but it also grows in areas dominated by guava and other introduced plants. It occurs naturally at elevations from 600 to 2,600 feet. (Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
Canavalia galeata is a legume and the seeds are contained in 5 inch long pods that are about 1 inch wide. The flattened, oblong seeds are reddish brown. The pods turn brown when the seeds are mature, usually in the fall or winter.

The seeds germinate readily when scarified. Lilleeng-Rosenberger (1998) recommends scarifying the seeds using a clippers, file or sandpaper, or cracking them with a hammer being careful not to damage the end where the seed will sprout.

Culliney and Koebele clean the seeds by putting them in a solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water for 1/2 hour. After removing the seeds from the bleach solution, soak them in tap water for a day. Use just enough water to cover the seeds. Then sow the seeds on the top of moistened vermiculite and cover them with a layer of moistened green sphagnum moss. As soon as the seeds begin to germinate, remove most of the moss layer. They report germination in 1 week using this technique.

Lilleeng-Rosenberger (1996) had 100% germination in just 5 days for the related species, Canavalia napaliensis; these seeds were sown in a medium consisting of 3 parts perlite to 1 part Sunshine Mix #4. For Canavalia molokaiensis, Lilleeng-Rosenberger (1996) obtained 72% germination for seeds which had been stored for 2 years at 80 degrees F and 25% relative humidity. After scarification, these seeds were planted in a medium of 3 parts perlite to 1 part Jiffy Mix and they germinated in 7 days. (Bornhorst 1996; Culliney 1999; Lilleeng-Rosenberger 1996; Lilleeng-Rosenberger 1998; Wagner 1990)

Propagation by Cuttings
Altenberg has successfully propagated another endemic species, Canavalia pubescens, from cuttings. He reports success with cuttings that were at least 2 nodes long from portions of the vine that still retained leaves. Cuttings made from stem parts which had already lost their leaves were not very successful. Cuttings were dipped in Rootone F and put into a medium of 1 part vermiculite and 1 part perlite. Cuttings were rooted under 50 percent shade cloth in Kihei, Maui and watered every morning. (Altenberg 2001)
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.
Altenberg, Lee. "Canavalia galeata ('Awikiwiki)." Personal email. Posted 20 June 2001.

Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 48-49.

Culliney, John L., and Bruce P. Koebele. 1999. A native Hawaiian garden: how to grow and care for island plants. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. p. 55-57.

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.

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. 651.

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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:
7 October 2001

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