‘Ilie‘e is a member of the Plumbaginaceae family and is the only member of this family that is native to Hawai‘i. This sprawling herbaceous shrub is an excellent ground cover which grows only from 1-3’ tall and can spread up to 15’ or more along the ground. It has smooth bright green leaves and is well adept at surviving in lower elevation dry forests up to 3000’ elevation. The white 5-petalled flowers appear in racemes at the tips of the branches and are present year-round!
Growing in full sun- or shade, ‘ilie‘e grows very well in the home landscape. It can tolerate drought, wind, heat, and a variety of soil types. It makes for an excellent ground cover and will even help retain soil in erosion prone areas! ‘Ilie‘e can handle heavy pruning and can be shaped into a low-lying hedge. Additional watering and pruning will help the plants branch out and produce more foliage.
Traditionally, parts of the ‘ilie‘e were pounded and mixed with other plants to alleviate sores and even to remedy sprains. Also of interest, the ‘ilie‘e can be used as the black dye for traditional Hawaiian tattooing.