Hawaiian Name(s): ‘ōhelo, ‘ōhelo kau lā‘au (V. calycinum), ‘ōhelo ‘ai (V. reticulatum)

Scientific Name: Vaccinium (3 species)

Vernacular Name: blueberry

Family: Ericaceae

Status: endemic

Authority: V. calycinum Sm., V. dentatum Sm., V. reticulatum Sm.

Description: Shrubs 1-5 m tall.

Habitat Habitats vary, with V. calycinum and V. dentatum generally occuring in wet forest and bogs, and V. reticulatum more often early successional plant on new lava flows or exposed sites (Wagner et al. 1990:593–595).

Medicines: To treat stomach pains, ‘eha naholo i loko o ka opu or mahikihiki, the ‘ōhelo leaf buds, leaves and fruit are combined with and the leaf buds and leaves of maunaloa (Canavalia cathartica or Dioclea wilsonii), pawale leaf buds, leaves, and fruit (Rumex spp.), ‘ōolena root (Curcuma longa), niu (coconut, Cocos nucifera), and kō kea (white sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum) by pounding into a mash. The mixture is strained with ‘ahu‘awa (Cyperus javanicus) and drunk once in the morning and again in the evening (Chun 1994:223-224).

Non Medicinal Uses: Fruits eaten (Handy et al. 1972:235).

Specific gravity of wood: unknown

Famous Locations:


`Ōlelo Noeau: Mai hahaki ‘oe i ka ‘‘ōhelo o punia i ka ua noe. Do not pluck the ‘‘ōhelo berries lest we be surrounded by rain and fog. A warning not to do anything that would result in trouble. It is kapu to pluck ‘‘ōhelo berries on the way to the crater of Kilauea. To do so would cause the rain and fog to come and one would lose his way. It is permissible to pick them at the crater if the first ‘ōhelo is tossed into the fire of Pele. Then, on the homeward way, one may pick as he pleases.

Dye Color and Parts:

Kino lau:

Location on Bishop Museum Kalihi Campus:

Propagation Information: Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database.
Native Plants Hawaii.

Seed: Seed length approximately 0.5-1.0 mm. Photograph: H.Lennstrom. Species: V. reticulatum.
Click for image