Kolomona is a woody shrub from the Fabaceae (Pea) family and is commonly found in Hawaii’s tropical dry land forests from sea level to over 3,000 ft. elevation. It is long lived (greater than 5yrs) and can grow to be 10 ft. tall! The leaves are compound with sets of 3-5 oppositely paired leaflets. The surface of the leaves are green, smooth, and pubescent (hairy) along the midrib. The under-side of the leaves will also be pubescent along the midrib. Flowers will appear sporadically throughout the year and are clustered in a raceme at the branch ends. They are green to pale-yellow and often blend in with surrounding foliage; however, when present, are wonderfully sweet smelling! Fruit develop into thin, flat, brown seed pods that are typically 2-4 inches in length, containing ~5 flat glossy black seeds.
Kolomona does very well in the xeric landscape and is a very low maintenance species once established. The plant excels in full sun, but can also tolerate partial shade. Kolomona is a drought tolerant species that thrives in organic or cindery soil with good drainage. At maturity, each individual will flower throughout the year and produce numerous seeds for continuation of the species!
The cultural uses for Kolomona in Hawai’i are not well known, however, the flowers work very well in lei and can be used to make a light green dye. Other species of Senna from around the world are known to have a variety of uses from food thickening agents to medicines to hair treatments.
- Lilleeng-Rosenberger, Kerin E. Growing Hawai’i’s native plants: a simple step-by-step approach for every species. Honolulu, Hawai’i: Mutual Pub., 2005.