Common Name
Hawaiian Persimmon and Hawaiian Ebony

Hawaiian Name

Scientific Name
Diospyros sandwiceneses


Auxiliary bud
Female Flower
Picture taken with permission from Dr. Gerry Carr, UH Botany <
Whole plant

Location On Campus

 The place you can find our plant on our campus is Keawe native garden next to middle school dorms.

Natural Habitat

The Lama plant is found on all islands except Kaho'olawe. Some specific places are Niu Valley, Kona, Kapalama,Kahuku, and Wailua. The lama mostly grows in dry areas, and occasionally in wet, moist areas. The Lama can Grow at elevations of almost sea level to more that 1,000 meters.

Cultural Information

The Lama is an endemic plant found only in Hawai‘i. It was used by ancient Hawaiians for food, the trunk for fish nets, and it was mixed with other plants including kukui and ulu and applied to sores for medication. Lama is the Hawaiian word for light. Lama was also used in the building of temples and considered sacred. The Lama tree represented the goddess Laka and used during hula performances.


Plant Description


  • Woody type stem
  • Black and hard
  • Woody type stem
  • Stands upright


  • Small and leathery
  • Red or pink when young, green when mature
  • Pinnate venation
  • Entire Margin
  • Soft underneath


  • Either male or female
  • Those that bear pollen (male) are small and usually in groups of three
  • Those that bear fruit (female) are larger and solitary


  • Light green in color
  • Fleshy type fruit


  • Wedged shaped
  • Found in the brown pit, which splits naturally into 2-3 pieces

Life Cycle/

  • Perennial - grows during all seasons and more than one season


  • Plant under moss
  • Sprouts in 2-4 weeks

Other Interesting Facts:

  • Plants that are not as strong are protected by the leaves of the great lama

Web Site Links

Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database

This is a good site that shows the Lama's habitat, geographical range, and seed propagation information.

National Tropical Botanical Garden

If you need to find more information about how alien plants are affecting the Lama you should check this site.

Lama, Elama

This website has two short descriptions, cultural uses, and a wonderful picture .

Plants and Animals of Pahole

This site has a short description and picture of a full grown tree, along with a rich supply of information about other plants.


This website has a wealth of information on the Lama's ancestry, location, etc.



Culinary, John L. and Kolobele, Bruce P. Native Hawaiian Garden. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1999

 Ebenaceae. Professor of Botany; Dr. Gerald Carr. 10 March. 2003 <>

Hawaiian Gardens; Native Hawaiian Lama Need Our Help. 15 October. Heidi Bornhorst. 2000 < /2000/Oct/15/1015islandlife13.html>

 Krauss, Beatrice H. Plants in Hawaiian Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1993.

Lama. 1999, 2000. University of Hawai'i & Kapi'olani Community College. 10 March. 2003 <>.

Lamb, Samuel H. Native Trees & Shrubs of the Hawaiian Islands. New Mexico: Sunstone Press, 1981.

Lamoureux, Charles H. Trail Side Plants of Hawai'i's National Parks. Honolulu: Hawai'i Natural History Association, 1994.

Neal, Marie C. In Gardens of Hawaii. Honolulu: The Museum, 1948.

Stone, Charles P. and Pratt, Linda W. Hawai'i's Plants and Animals. Honolulu: Natural History Association, 1994.

Return to Top

Web page created by Kamehameha Middle School Koa Team Students: Kekoa and Kristian

© Kamehameha Schools. All rights reserved. Statements of Privacy, Copyright, and Disclaimer.