From Common Forest Trees of Hawaii

Hawai'i Kauilatree
Alphitonia ponderosa
Buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae)

Native species ()

Medium-sized to large handsome tree of dry forests characterized by rusty hairs on twigs, leaf-stalks, flower stalks, and under surface of the young leaves, by lateral clusters of small greenish flowers spreading like a five-pointed star, and by rounded ringed near the middle. To 50–80 ft (15–24 ) high with straight trunk 8–24 inches (0.2–0.6 ) in diameter, or only a shrub on exposed ridges. Bark whitish gray, rough and furrowed. Twigs with raised half-round leaf scars and rusty hairy buds composed of minute leaves.

©2003 Forest And Kim Starr
Leaves with leaf-stalks 1⁄2–1 inch (13–25 ) long. Blades are 2–6 inches (5–15 ) long, long-pointed at rounded at base, not on edges, slightly thickened and leathery, with curved parallel side veins, shiny dark green and hairless above, and beneath dull light green with rusty hairy raised veins.

Flower clusters () at leaf bases, shorter than leaves, with widely forking hairy branches. Flowers several, of one or both sexes (polygamous), short-stalked, about 1⁄4 inch (6 ) across. The short cuplike base () bears five spreading pointed hairy more than 1⁄16 inch (1.5 ) long; five narrow spoon-shaped petals half as long and partly enclosing the five and with one celled covered by a broad rounded and with a short 2–3-forked

() is about 5⁄8 inch (15 ) in diameter, with a ring formed by a cuplike base, containing two or three stones. Seeds are oblong, shiny, with red covering.

The wood has a beautiful cherry red or dark red color with wide light yellowish brown sapwood. It has distinct growth rings and is diffuse, porous, fine-textured, very hard, strong, and durable. One of the heaviest native woods, it sinks in water. It was highly valued by the Hawaiians and served as tools in the absence of metals. The many uses hut beams, mallets for beating tapa cloth, spears 13–20 ft (4–6 ) long, javelins, and the o’o or digging stick for cultivating fields. The lintels above the windows of the Hawaiian Mission Printing House, built in 1821, were of this wood and were quite sound when removed for restoration in 1972. Rounded polished rods of the wood became hairpins for women.

Widespread in the lower dry forest on the leeward side of the six large Hawaiian Islands, sometimes on exposed ridges and on aa lava fields at 800–4100 ft (244–1250 ) elevation in koa forest. Rare except on Kauai.

Special areas
Kokee, Volcanoes

Height 62 ft (18.9 ), c.b.h. 7 ft (2.1 ), spread 54 ft (16.5 ). Kokee State Park, Kauai (1968).

Known only from the Hawaiian Islands.

Other common name

Alphitonia excelsa auth., not (Fenzl) Reiss. ex Endl.

St. John (1977a) has distinguished six varieties, each restricted to a separate island.

stamen -- the pollen-producing reproductive organ of a flower; The stamen consists of an anther supported by a filament.

cm -- A centimeter which is about 0.4 inches.

m -- A meter is about 10% larger than a yard.

disc flowers are those in the center of a sunflower or daisy. Not a ray flower.

endemic -- when restricted to a certain country or area.

style -- This is a long and thread-like structure that connects the stigma with the ovary. A flower may have a single style, or several of them.

The apex is the tip or the furthest point from the attachment.

alternate -- leaves alternate along the main stem and are attached singly.

Like the teeth on a saw, leaves and other surfaces can have toothed edges.

cyme -- Multiple flower stalks emerge from a single point and the flowers at the end bloom first.

A pistil is the female structure of many flowers. It contains one or more carpels. Each carpel contins an ovary, style and stigma. The stigma receives the pollen which grows thru the style to reach the ovary.

An evergreen tree retains a large portion of its green leaves all year.

In an opposite leaf arrangement the leaves come in pairs with one leaf on each side of a stem.

fruit -- any seed-bearing structure in flowering plants. It is formed from the ovary after flowering.

drupe -- A fruit in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a hardened shell containing a seed. A peach is a drupe. A raspberry is composed of drupelets.

included -- Enclosed and not protruding. For example, stamens within the corolla.

synonym -- In botany a synonym is a species name that at one time was thought to be the correct name for a plant but was later found to be incorrect and has been replaced by a new name.

The hypanthium or floral cup is a cup-like structure formed by the fused bases of the stamens, petals, and sepals.

mm -- millimeter. About 1/25th of an inch.

ovate -- Oval, egg-shaped, with a tapering point.

Usually green, sepals typically function as protection for the flower in bud, and often as support for the petals when in bloom.

An ovary is a part of the female reproductive organ of the flower. Above the ovary is the style and the stigma, which is where the pollen lands and germinates to grow down through the style to the ovary.