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Portulaca molokiniensis
Alternative Botanical Names
None found
Common Names
Potential or Traditional Uses
Photo of Portulaca molokiniensis
An upright growing succulent, Portulaca molokiniensis grows to 1 to 1 1/2 feet tall. It branches at or below the soil line forming clumps up to 20 inches in diameter with each stem being up to 3/4 inch in diameter. The thick rounded leaves are pale green and up to 2 inches in length. They often grow in four rows along the stems and tend to cluster at the ends of the branches. A cluster of small yellow cup-shaped flowers forms at the ends of thick stalks that arise from the center of the leaf rosettes. (Koob 1998; Wagner 1990)
Habitat and Geographic Range
Portulaca molokiniensis is a rare Hawaiian endemic. It is known from two locations, one on Molokini and one on Kaho'olawe. It grows on volcanic tuff, loose rock at the base of sea cliffs and on steep rocky slopes. (Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
The 1/4 inch fruits of Portulaca molokiniensis are capsules shaped like pointed eggs and are filled with dark-brown to black, slightly sticky seeds. The capsules split open when ripe. To collect seeds, place mature unopened fruit in a container such as a paper bag and allow them to open naturally. Sow the seeds on the surface of moist, sterile, well draining mix such as 2 parts perlite and 1 part potting soil. Do not cover the seeds with planting mix. Germination takes about 2 (Koob) to 3 (NTBG) months. (Koob 1998; NTBG 1992)
Propagation by Cuttings
Portulaca molokiniensis is easy to grow from tip cuttings. Cuttings should be 2 to 5 inches long and the upper foliage should be left on the cutting. Cuttings should be allowed to dry (callous) for a day or so before planting.

Koob suggests rooting the cuttings in moist coarse sand or perlite. NTBG suggests a very light potting mix such as 3 parts perlite to 1 part vermiculite. Oasis (floral foam) cubes can also be used. Water only when dry, generally every other day. Rooting takes 2 to 3 weeks. (Bornhorst 1996; Koob 1998; NTBG 1992)

Propagation by Division
Not applicable.
Propagation by Air Layers
Not applicable.
Propagation by Grafting
Not applicable.
Propagation by Tissue Culture
No information located to date.
Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 30-31.

Koob, Gregory A. 1998. The Molokini 'Ihi: a Hawaiian native succulent with ornamental value. Hawai'i Horticulture 1 (11):10-12.

National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG). 1992. 'Ihi. In Native Hawaiian plant information sheets. Lawai, Kauai: Hawaii Plant Conservation Center. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Unpublished internal papers.

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. 1072.

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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:
9 March 2000

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