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Pittosporum confertiflorum
Alternative Botanical Names
Pittosporum cauliflorum
Pittosporum cladanthum
Pittosporum halophiloides
Pittosporum halophilum
Pittosporum lanaiense
Pittosporum terminalioides

Common Names
Potential or Traditional Uses
Photo of Pittosporum confertiflorum foliage and flowers
Pittosporum confertiflorum is a shrub or small tree ranging in height from 7 to 30 feet tall. The branches are stiff and upright. They are reddish-brown to brown and can range from smooth to somewhat hairy.

The leaves cluster towards the ends of the branches. They are tough and flexible and can appear somewhat wrinkled because of the prominent veins. The leaves are oblong ranging is length from 2 3/4 to 12 inches and in width from 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches. The leaf edges are smooth and rolled under. The end of the leaf varies from pointed to rounded. The upper surfaces of older leaves are glossy green while the young leaves and lower surfaces of older leaves are covered with pale brown to reddish brown, occasionally white, hairs.

While most Pittosporum have unisexual flowers, Pittosporum confertiflorum often has perfect flowers. The tubular flowers are cream-colored to white and about 1/2 inch long. They occur in dense bunches of 5 to 14 flowers. These bunches grow out of the leaf axils or at the ends of the branches. The flowers are fragrant at night. (Lamb 1981; Wagner 1999; Weissich 1995)

Habitat and Geographic Range
Pittosporum confertiflorum is the most wide-spread and common of the 10 endemic Hawaiian Pittosporum species. It occurs on O'ahu, Lana'i, Maui and Hawai'i in dry to wet forests and subalpine forests at elevations ranging from 550 to 7,000 feet. (Wagner 1999)
Propagation by Seeds
The seeds are inside oval capsules that are brown to reddish brown when mature. Fruits of Pittosporum confertiflorum are generally ripe in the winter. The capsule has a wrinkled or rough exterior. The capsules open slowly to reveal the orange or red inner surface. The capsules are 3/4 to 1/14 inch long and each capsule contains 30 to 50 seeds. The small sticky seeds are black or brown and about 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter.

Woolliams reports that green fruit will often open if stored in a plastic bag. Culliney and Koebele found that viable seeds cannot be obtained from green fruit even when mature. Only fresh seed from newly opened ripe fruit germinated. Their procedure is to extract the seeds from the capsules and immerse them in a room temperature solution of 9 parts water to 1 part household bleach for 1/2 hour. After the seeds are removed from the bleach solution, they are soaked in tap water for a day using just enough water to cover the seeds. The seeds are sown on the surface of wet vermiculite in sterilized containers. The containers must have good drainage. The seeds are covered with a 1 inch layer of dampened green sphagnum moss. Culliney and Koebele found that Pittosporum seeds took many months to sprout.

Obata reported that Pittosporum species set very few seeds and that many seeds lack embryos. Artificial pollination did not result in additional viable seed. (Culliney 1999; Lamb 1981; Obata 1997a; Obata 1997b; Wagner 1999; Woolliams 1976)

Propagation by Cuttings
There is no published information on successful cutting propagation of any Hawaiian Pittosporum species. Criley reports very low percentages in rooting tip cuttings using total auxin concentrations ranging from 4,000 parts per million (ppm) to 6,000 ppm under 30% shade with an intermittent mist system.

In Tan's experiments on rooting Pittosporum cuttings, a concentration of 3,000 ppm of IBA gave better results than higher concentrations of 4,500 and 7,500 ppm. The cuttings were 3 to 4 inch long taken from the terminal growths of several species of Pittosporum. These cuttings were wounded in the basal 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the stem and were then dipped into a liquid solution of IBA dissolved in 30% ethanol. The propagation medium consisted of 1 part vermiculite to 1 part perlite. The cuttings were placed in an outdoor mist bench in Manoa using a mist cycle of 6 seconds every 5 minutes from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The cuttings were taken in mid-July and the first rooting was observed in mid-September. Although the average rooting percentage was only 23%, Tan felt that much of this was attributable to variability in cutting age and excessive, uncontrolled moisture due to the lack of cover in Manoa. Tan recommends a more controlled propagation environment and use of semi-woody cuttings. This work also highlights the potential influence of the source plant. Tan collected cuttings from 3 different plants of Pittosporum confertiflorum. The rooting success for one plant was 70% compared to 30% and 0% for the other two plants. Tan felt that the 0% result was due to the cuttings not being sufficiently mature. (Criley 1998; Criley 1999; Tan 2001)

Some information reported for Pittosporum hosmeri may be applicable to this species.

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.
Criley, Richard A. 1998. Propagation of indigenous and endemic ornamental Hawaiian plants. Combined Proceedings of the International Plant Propagators' Society 48:669-674.

Criley, Richard A. 1999. Aloha Hawai'i. American Nurseryman 190 (3):50-61.

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. 61-64.

Lamb, Samuel H. 1981. Native trees and shrubs of the Hawaiian Islands. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Sunstone Press. p. 43.

Obata, John K. 1997a. Common native Hawaiian plants worthy of cultivation. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 36 (3/4):74.

Obata, John K. 1997b. Growing native Hawaiian plants. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 36 (3/4):75-76.

Tan, Chye Soon Alan. 2001. Unpublished paper on the effect of IBA on root formation on native Hawaiian Pittosporum cuttings: Department of Horticulture, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Wagner, Warren L., Darrel R. Herbst, and S. H. Sohmer. 1999. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai'i, rev. ed. 2 vols., Bishop Museum Special Publication 97. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press and Bishop Museum Press. p. 1044-1045.

Weissich, Paul R. 1995. Hawaiian native plants in the landscape. Combined Proceedings International Plant Propagators' Society 44:332-335.

Woolliams, Keith R. 1976. The propagation of Hawaiian endangered species. NATO Conference Series. I, Ecology 1:73-83.

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Last updated:
17 October 2003

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