Hawaiian Name

Common Name

Scientific Name
Sesbania tomentosa



Whole Plant




Leaves and Flowers

Location On Campus

 On campus this tree is found in between Keawe gym and the dorms. The tree and the shrub can both be found here.


Natural Habitat

 This tree is found on all of the major Hawaiian Islands. It grows mainly on the coast. It also grows on lowland areas.

Cultural Information

 This plant is endemic to Hawai'i. This plant's flowers are used in the landscape, but is also used to make leis. This plant is endangered.

Plant Description


  • Woody stem
  • Brown to gray in color
  • Not climbing


  • Oval shaped leaves
  • 19 leaflets
  • Little hairs all over leaves
  • Compound leaves
  • Appear white or silver because of hairs


  • Red, orange, salmon in color
  • Rarely ever found pure in yellow color
  • About 2.5 centimeters long


  • Pods
  • Brown in color
  • 7.5 to 22.5 cm long


  • Located in the pods
  • Pale, olive, or dark brown in color
  • Seeds are 15 -17 mm long


  • Bees observed in flowers


Propagation by:

  • Seeds
  • Cuttings

Interesting Facts:

  • Endangered
  • Part of the pea family
  • Can be found as a shrub or tree
  • Shrub and tree are similar except for height

Web Site Links

Hawaiian Native Plant Genera; Sesbania

At this site you will be able to find the location of the 'ohai and some pictures of the plant.

Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database: Sesbania tomentosa

At this site you will find a short description of the plant, where it is located, propagation, and traditional uses. It will also show the picture of the 'ohai.



Culliney, John L., and Koebele, Bruce P. A Native Hawaiian Garden. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1999.

 Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database: Sesbania Tomentosa. 16 Sept. 2001. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources University of Hawai'i at Manoa. 12 Mar. 2003<>

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

Merin, Mark David. Hawaiian Coastal Plants and Scenic Shorelines. Honolulu: The Oriental Publishing Company, 1987.

Stone, Charles P., and Pratt, Linda W. Hawai'i's Plants and Animals. Honolulu: Hawai'i Press, 1993.

Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R. and Sohmer, S. H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai'i. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

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