Hawaiian Name(s): ‘ilie‘e, hilie‘e, ‘ilihe‘e, lauhihi (Ni‘ihau)

Scientific Name: Plumbago zeylanica

Vernacular Name: leadwort

Family: Plumbaginaceae

Status: indigenous

Authority: L.

Description: Shrub.

Habitat Found in disturbed, arid habitats such as sand dunes, dry forest and shrubland between 0-610 m on all main islands (Wagner et al. 1990:1056).

Medicines: For pehu o ka ‘ili (and other swellings) the treatment combines tap roots, epidermis, and leaves of the ‘ilie‘e with salt and he‘i fruit (papaya, Carica papaya). For sores, the leaves and stems of the ‘ilie‘e are pounded and ground with koali pehu (Ipomoea alba) and a type of grass, then added to the sap from stems of he‘i fruits (Chun 1994:104–105).

Non Medicinal Uses: Juice from roots used as a tattoo pigments that ranged from navy blue to black (Abbott 1992:128).

Specific gravity of wood: n/a

Famous Locations:


`Ōlelo Noeau:

Dye Color and Parts:

Kino lau:

Location on Bishop Museum Kalihi Campus:

Propagation Information: Easy. Seeds germinate in 3-4 weeks; once in individual pots begin watering with dilute liquid fertilizer to speed up growth; stem cuttings develop roots in 1 month, wait for good stem growth before repotting (Culliney and Koebele 1999:68–70).
Native Plants Hawaii.

Seed: Seed length approximately 5 mm. Photograph: H.Lennstrom.
Click for image