Pōhinahina is an attractive and easily propagated shrub that does well in a variety of areas! Naturally occurring near sandy beaches and at elevations less than 150’, pōhinahina can adapt well to different areas in the landscape setting. It can easily grow well outside of its natural elevation range and can even handle wetter climates with properly draining soil! Easily noticed by its round, gray-green and opposite leaves, pōhinahina is a member of the Lamiaceae family and like other members of the mint family, the leaves are fragrant when crushed. Some describe the scent as being similar to sage, basil, or black pepper. The flowers are a bright purple color and appear in small clusters at the tips of the branches which eventually ripen into small round fruit which turn black as they mature.
Pōhinahina makes for a great accent plant, erosion control plant, ground cover, or small hedge. It is easily propagated by cuttings or by seed, just soak in water for 24 hours and lightly sow them into media. They can also handle a heavy amount of pruning and will live for many years if taken care of properly. They are resistant to drought, salt spray, wind and heat; and will thrive in cinder, coral, clay, or sandy soils.
Traditionally, pōhinahina has been used to treat minor illnesses such as head or stomach pain. Today, most of its cultural use lies within lei making where its fragrant foliage is used for its pleasant smell and longevity once cut.
- 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.