College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources logo

Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database

database logo

Pritchardia spp.
Alternative Botanical Names
Eupritchardia spp.
Common Names
Potential or Traditional Uses
Photo of Pritchardia martii
Pritchardia are single trunked palm trees with fan-shaped leaves. The Hawaiian Pritchardia are generally medium to large sized palms growing from 25 to 60 feet tall. The color and hairiness of the leaves, the length of the flowering stems, and the size and color of the fruit vary by species. For example, Pritchardia martii from O'ahu reaches about 30 feet in height and has leaves that are silvery underneath. The flower stalks grow past the ends of the leaves and the oval fruit is about 2 inches long.

On the other hand, Pritchardia hillebrandii is from Moloka'i and grows to about 20 feet tall. It has leaves that are silvery underneath, flower stalks that don't extend beyond the leaves, and round fruit that is up to 1 inch in diameter and blue to black when ripe.

Pritchardia remota from Nihoa is one of the smaller of the Hawaiian species. Its slender trunk reaches heights of up to 20 feet and is topped by fewer than 40 green, waxy leaves. The flower stalks are shorter than the leaves and the 3/4 inch greenish-brown fruits ripen to dark purplish-black. (Bornhorst 1996; Chapin 1990; NTBG n.d. (b); Wagner 1990)

Habitat and Geographic Range
The genus Pritchardia consists of 25 species of palms native to the tropical Pacific Islands. There are as many as 19 endemic species of Pritchardia in the Hawaiian islands including species categorized as either endangered, rare or vulnerable. Each Hawaiian island has at least one distinct Pritchardia species with some islands having distinct species or forms restricted to individual valleys or mountains.

The natural habitats of the species vary considerably. Pritchardia martii grows in the Ko'olau Mountains of O'ahu in wet forests at elevations of 1,100 to 2,000 feet. Pritchardia hillebrandii is from the windward coast of Moloka'i and grows in moist to wet forests from 100 to 1,900 feet. Pritchardia remota is found only on the cliff bases and terraces of East and West Palm valleys on Nihoa at elevations from 650 to 2,600 feet. (Wagner 1990)

Propagation by Seeds
Pritchardia are easy to grow from seed when mature seed is obtainable. Many introduced mammals damage the seeds in the wild. Hybridization may occur when several Pritchardia species are planted near each other. Woolliams states that unripe seeds of mature size will usually germinate though they may take longer than fully ripe seeds.

For best germination results, the outer husk needs to be removed from the seed. NTBG recommends soaking the seeds in water for at least 24 hours, or until the outer coat has softened, and peeling off the outer husk. Lilleeng-Rosenberger recommends placing green seeds in a zip lock plastic bag for 2 to 4 weeks until the outer husk is soft and dark. Remove the husk before it starts to rot. These cleaned seeds can be germinated in plastic bags or in pots.

To germinate the seeds in zip lock plastic bags, place about 5 seeds in dampened sterile potting mix or in sphagnum moss and keep them in sealed bags in a dark warm location for about 4 weeks. To germinate the seeds in pots or flats, NTBG recommends planting the seeds 1 1/2 inches deep in a well draining medium such as 3 parts perlite to 2 parts peat moss. Bornhorst says to bury the seeds halfway in sterile well-drained potting soil. Keep moist until seeds germinate in a few months.

Germination rates for Pritchardia are generally very good for mature, undamaged seed. The germination rate for Pritchardia remota is almost 100%. In his germination studies, Obata found that untreated seeds of Pritchardia hillebrandii had germination rates ranging from 30 to 100%. (Bornhorst 1996; Chapin 1990; Lilleeng-Rosenberger 1998; NTBG n.d. (a); NTBG n.d. (b); Obata 1967; Woolliams 1975; Woolliams 1976)

Propagation by Cuttings
Not applicable.
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. 64-65.

Chapin, Melany H. 1990. Pritchardia remota: a singularly beautiful palm. The Bulletin of the National Tropical Botanical Garden 20 (3):62-64.

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

National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG). n.d. (a) Loulu [Pritchardia hillebrandii]. In Native Hawaiian plant information sheets. Lawai, Kauai: Hawaii Plant Conservation Center. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Unpublished internal papers.

National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG). n.d. (b) Loulu [Pritchardia remota]. In Native Hawaiian plant information sheets. Lawai, Kauai: Hawaii Plant Conservation Center. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Unpublished internal papers.

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

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. 1364-1375.

Woolliams, Keith R. 1975. The propagation of Hawaiian endangered species. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 14 (4):59-68.

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

Search Database

Browse Database --
By Botanical Name
By Common Name

Other Native Hawaiian Plant Sites

Other Plant Propagation Sites

Database Bibliography

Database Home Page

Other CTAHR Databases

The image in this record is used with permission from Dr. Gerald Carr's Web site "Hawaiian Native Plants" at

Last updated:
6 April 2000

Please send comments and suggestions to