Native Plants of KHP: Maiapilo

Name: Maiapilo (Capparis sandwichiana)

Description: An endemic shrub most often seen wild in coastal areas but also found in open dry forests and shrubland on all the main Islands as well as some of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. The night-blooming flowers are large and white with a strong pleasant fragrance.

Best Growing Conditions:
Full sun; water once a week until established and then only during drought. Do not overwater.

Interesting Facts: Maiapilo at different sites can vary greatly in height (prostrate to a small tree), as well as flower and fruit size. Maiapilo translates as “stinky banana”, a reference to its pungent fruits which turn from green to yellow as they ripen. In ancient times, Hawaiians used maiapilo to heal broken bones (Neal 1965). Capers, pickled flowers buds, come from a non-Hawaiian maiapilo relative, Capparis spinosa.

More information about maiapilo can be found at: www.nativehawaiiangarden.org
Text & photograph by Bruce P Koebele 

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