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Osteomeles anthyllidifolia
Alternative Botanical Names
Pyrus anthyllidifolia
Common Names
Potential or Traditional Uses
Photo of Osteomeles anthyllidifolia
Osteomeles anthyllidifolia is a sprawling shrub with flexible, prostrate branches that can eventually develop into a large shrub up to 10 feet tall. The glossy green leaves are about 3 inches long and made of up of 15 to 25 small leaflets. The white, slightly fragrant flowers grow in small clusters of 3 to 6 blossoms at the ends of the branches. (Bornhorst 1996; Wagner 1990)
Habitat and Geographic Range
Osteomeles anthyllidifolia is indigenous to Hawai'i and also occurs in the Cook Islands and Tonga. In Hawai'i, Osteomeles anthyllidifolia is found in a wide variety of habitats including coastal cliffs, lava fields, dry shrub land, and dry to moist forests. It is often competitive with other plants even in disturbed situations. Osteomeles anthyllidifolia grows at elevations ranging from 10 to 7,500 feet on all the main islands of Hawai'i except Ni'ihau and Kaho'olawe. (Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
The round white fruit of Osteomeles anthyllidifolia is 3/8 inch in diameter and has white to purple flesh. The fruit contains 3 or 4 hard seeds that are small and yellowish.

Osteomeles anthyllidifolia is easy to propagate from fully mature seeds. The seeds should be removed from the white outer pulp. Lilleeng-Rosenberger suggests ripening the fruit in a plastic bag to soften the pulp. After this, the seeds can be removed from the pulp more easily. This can be done by rubbing the fruits in a strainer under running water, or by manually crushing the fruits in a bowl of water to separate the seeds from the pulp. Pour off the lighter fruit pieces and any seeds that float. Wash the remaining seeds thoroughly. At this point they can be dried on a paper towel for planting or storing.

Bornhorst says that soaking the seeds in water for 1 or 2 days will enhance germination. Boche recommends soaking the seeds for 3 to 7 days. Sow the seeds on the top of a well-drained, porous mix such as 1 part potting soil to 1 part perlite or cinder. Seeds germinate in 2 to 6 months.

In his germination studies, Obata found that untreated seeds of Osteomeles anthyllidifolia had germination rates ranging from 5 to 30%. Yoshinaga found that seeds of Osteomeles anthyllidifolia lose viability after a year of being stored at room temperature and ambient humidity. However, seeds had good viability after being stored for the same length of time at 39 degrees F (normal refrigerator temperature) and relative humidity of 10% or less. This low humidity can be obtained using silica gel in an airtight container. (Boche 1994; Bornhorst 1996; Criley 1998; Criley 1999; Lilleeng-Rosenberger 1998; NTBG 1992; Obata 1967; Wagner 1990; Yoshinaga 1998)

Propagation by Cuttings
Osteomeles anthyllidifolia can be grown from cuttings. Boche recommends taking cuttings in the early spring. NTBG suggests using semi-hardwood cuttings 6 to 8 inches long with at least 3 nodes. Bornhorst recommends cuttings 2 to 4 inches long and using rooting hormone, but no concentration is given. Stick the cuttings in a well-drained, porous mix such as 1 part potting soil to 1 part perlite or cinder. Keep the cuttings moist and they will root in about 3 months.

Criley found that 67% of firm tip cuttings rooted eight weeks after being treated with 6,000 parts per million (ppm) of the rooting hormone IBA. These cuttings were grown under an intermittent mist system which ran for 6 to 8 seconds every 5 or 6 minutes using 30% shade cloth. (Boche 1994; Bornhorst 1996; Criley 1998; Criley 1999; NTBG 1992)

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.
Boche, Kenneth, and Barrie Moss. 1994. Unpublished paper on miscellaneous native species. Paper read at Propagation and Culture of Hawaiian Native Plants Workshop, at Naniloa Hotel, Hilo, Hawaii.

Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 31-32.

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.

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

Moriarty, Dan. 1975. Native Hawaiian plants for tropical seaside landscaping. The Bulletin of the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden 5 (3):41-48.

National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG). 1992. 'Ulei. 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. 1104-1105.

Yoshinaga, Alvin. 1998. Storing seeds of some natiave rain forest plants: some simple methods. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 37 (2):28-32.

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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:
17 August 2001

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