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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, October 4, 2002

Kupukupu, pohinahina winning plant combo

By Heidi Bornhorst
Advertiser Garden Columnist

Q. I bought a couple of native Hawaiian kupu-kupu ferns at the Foster Gardens plant sale. I want to plant them with pohinahina (a drought-tolerant plant with purple flowers)

in front of a stone wall at our school. Is this not a good combo? I planted pohinahina at my parent's home on Guam, and it's going gonzo.

A. This sounds like a winning plant combo to me. Both are native Hawaiian, less thirsty and attractive. It is not a combination I've seen before, but it sounds like it would work. Both are great plants for lei making. Setting plants against a stone wall is always a nice landscape touch. Good for you, planting natives at your school. You have some lucky students!

Pohinahina also is called polinalina and kolokolo kahakai. It has silvery leaves and lavender flowers. The leaves are fragrant when lightly crushed, and this is another nice feature in a lei.

Pohinahina grows rapidly and is an excellent ground cover. It is one of our toughest, most pest- resistant, erosion-controlling Native Hawaiian ground covers.

In bloom

We observed an attractive, wild combination of lavender-colored plants at an abandoned beach house in Lai'e. For those looking for an easy-to-maintain, drought-resistant landscape installation that thrives on abuse and total neglect, this just might be the winning plant combo for you. Nobody has groomed, watered or taken care of this garden in many months, if not years.

Native Hawaiian morning glories (koali) in shades of purple and blue were intertwined with pohuehue, or beach morning glory. Pohuehue has rich lavender flowers and twinned "goat feet" leaves that are tough and waxy. Koali has light green, heart-shaped leaves.

The "haole" component in this hapa-haole plantscape was Chinese violet, vinca or Asystasia gangetica, an old-fashioned plant that some consider a weed. It has pretty flowers in lavender, purple, yellow and white. This planting had the violet and purple shades.