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Myoporum sandwicense
Alternative Botanical Names
Myoporum degeneri
Myoporum faurier
Myoporum lanaiense
Myoporum saint-johnii
Myoporum stellatum
Myoporum tenuifolium
Polycoelium sandwicense

Common Names
Bastard Sandalwoo
False Sandalwood
Potential or Traditional Uses
Photo of Myoporum sandwicense
Myoporum sandwicense is quite variable and ranges in habit from a many-branched shrub to a small tree. At elevations above 2,500 feet, it can get to 45 feet tall with age, but generally it is much smaller. In cultivation, it generally grows to about 15 feet in height, but it can get up to 25 feet tall and 12 feet wide. It has dark gray, grooved bark.

The shiny or waxy green leaves vary in shape from long and narrow to elliptic and can be anywhere from 1 1/2 to 8 inches in length. Myoporum sandwicense blooms year round. The 1/4 inch bell-shaped flowers are fragrant. They are arranged close to the stems and range in color from white to pink. (Bornhorst 1996; Koob 1998; NTBG 1996; Rauch 1997; Wagner 1990)

Habitat and Geographic Range
Myoporum sandwicense is indigenous to Hawai'i and also occurs on Mangaia in the Cook Islands. It is found on all the main Hawaiian islands except, possibly, Kaho'olawe. It occurs in a variety of habitats including in shoreline vegetation, a'a lava, and dry, moist, and wet forests. It is most common in subalpine forests. It grows at elevations ranging from sea level to 7,700 feet. Currently, there are three accepted geographic subspecies. (Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
The fruits of Myoporum sandwicense are almost round, fleshy, and about 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter. When ripe, they range in color from greenish white to pinkish or purplish. Large, ripe, juicy fruits contain unusual multiple seeds; smaller fruits may have no seeds.

The seeds must be removed from the fruit pulp before planting. Stratton et al recommend ripening the seeds in a plastic bag. This softens the pulp making the seeds easier to clean. After ripening, the fruit flesh can be removed by either placing the fruits in a colander or strainer under running water or breaking up the fruit by hand in a bowl of water. Discard the fruit pulp and any seeds that float since they will not germinate. Wash the remaining seeds thoroughly and dry them on a paper towel.

Myoporum sandwicense seeds should be pretreated by soaking. The seeds should be covered with water which has been heated to no more than 120 - 135 degrees F. This temperature is hot to the touch, but not boiling. The seeds should be soaked for 12 to 48 hours. If seeds are soaked for the longer periods of time, the water should be changed daily. Stratton suggests that scarifying by sanding may decrease germination time.

The treated seeds should be planted in sterile potting mix or other well-drained medium such as a mixture of 3 parts #2 perlite to 1 part Sunshine Mix #4. Keep the medium moist and place the containers in a covered, shaded location to control soil moisture and eliminate rain damage.

The shortest germination time for Myoporum sandwicense seeds is obtained with fresh seed, but it is still highly variable. Stratton says that it can vary from 1 to 18 months; NTBG says that the seeds will germinate within 6 months; Koob states that the seeds will germinate "over a fairly long period of time"; Bornhorst indicates that they germinate sporadically; Mew gives a range of 6 to 15 months; Rauch writes that germination takes about 18 months. Germination rates also vary from 10 to 70% depending on the quality of the seed. In his germination studies, Obata found that untreated seeds of Myoporum sandwicense had germination rates ranging from 5 to 30%.

Viability decreases with storage. However, if seed must be stored, air dry cleaned seed and place it in a paper bag or envelope. Place this in an airtight container with a desiccant and place it in a cool place at 25% relative humidity. (Bornhorst 1996; Koob 1998; Mew 1987; NTBG 1996; Obata 1967; Rauch 1997; Stratton 1998)

Propagation by Cuttings
Myoporum sandwicense can be grown from 3 to 5 inch long soft or semi-hard wood cuttings. Reduce transpiration by cutting upper leaves in half. Use a mild rooting hormone (e.g. 0.05% IBA and 0.025% NAA) (Koob, email) and a well-drained rooting medium such as sand, vermiculite or perlite. Use of a mist system or humidity chamber will speed rooting. Rooting takes "many weeks." Stratton indicates that success depends on the age of the parent plant. (Bornhorst 1996; Koob 1998; Stratton 1998)
Propagation by Division
Not applicable.
Propagation by Air Layers
Myoporum sandwicense can be air layered using standard techniques. Remove air layer from mother plant with roots are 3 to 4 inches long. (Koob 1998)
Propagation by Grafting
No information located to date.
Propagation by Tissue Culture
No information located to date.
Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1990. Introduction to xerophytic native Hawaiian plants. The Bulletin of the National Tropical Botanical Garden 20 (3):49-54.

Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 42-43.

Koob, Gregory A. 1998. Naio, or bastard sandalwood. Hawai'i Horticulture 1 (2):17-20.

Koob, Gregory A. "Rooting Hormone Question." Personal email. Posted 28 January 1999.

Mew, Randal K. T. 1987. Cultivation and propagation of selected coastal plants at the Waikiki Aquarium. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 26 (2):27-32.

National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG). 1996. Ten native Hawaiian trees for urban landscapes. Lawai, Hawaii: Education and Plant Science Departments. National Tropical Botanical Garden.

Obata, John K. 1967. Seed germination in native Hawaiian plants. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 6 (3):13-20.

Rauch, Fred D., Heidi L. Bornhorst, Rhonda Stibbe, and David Hensley. 1997. Naio, Ornamentals and Flowers OF-19. Honolulu: 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.)

Stratton, Lisa, Leslie Hudson, Nova Suenaga, and Barrie Morgan. 1998. Overview of Hawaiian dry forest propagation techniques. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 37 (2):13, 15-27.

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. 928-929.

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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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