Hawaiian Name(s): nānū, nā‘ū

Scientific Name: Gardenia (3 species)

Vernacular Name: Hawaiian gardenia

Family: Rubiaceae

Status: endemic

Authority: G. brighamii H.Mann, G. mannii H.St.John & Kuykendall, G. reymi H.Mann

Description: Shrubs or trees 5-15 m tall.

Habitat G. brighamii dry forest 350–520 m (most main islands), G. mannii mesic to wet forest 100–730 m (O‘ahu), G. remyi mesic to wet forest 60–760 m (Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i, Maui, Hawai‘i) (Wagner et al. 1990:1131—1133).


Non Medicinal Uses: Wood used for kapa anvils (kua kuku) (Abbott 1992:50). Fruit pulp used to make yellow kapa dye (Lamb 1981:134–135). In the Ethnology Collection at Bishop Museum there is a post-contact example of the wood made into a bowl.

Specific gravity of wood: unknown

Famous Locations:


`Ōlelo Noeau:

Dye Color and Parts: Yellow (fruit)

Kino lau:

Location on Bishop Museum Kalihi Campus:

Propagation Information: Easy. Seeds from ripe fruit soaked 1 hour in water, viable seeds sink. Bury seeds 5 mm deep in vermiculite, germinate in 2 weeks, transfer to individual pots 1 week after seedcoats shed, when leaves appear begin watering with dilute fertilizer, plantout when 20-30cm with partial shade (Culliney and Koebele 199:121–123).
Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database.
Native Plants Hawaii.