Erythrina sandwicensis (Fabaceae) - wiliwili

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Status: Not listed

Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Status: Not listed

Wiliwili is a large, striking, dry forest tree with brilliant orange flowers and bright red seeds. Most wiliwili flower synchronously; when out of flower they have shocking orange bark from an associated alga.


Wiliwili trees suffer tremendous loss of seed to predation from a weevil, but viable seeds can be found with sufficient persistence. A warm water soak or mechanical scarification of the seeds can enhance germination rates. Seeds have a high germination rate and seedling grow quickly.


Wiliwili is extremely fast-growing in height and girth, potentially reaching a meter or more in a single year. They will rapidly outgrow pots and care must be taken to avoid root bound potss. In cultivation, the plants are very susceptible to spider mites and powdery mildew; they will sometimes outgrow the mildew but the mites should be treated or they may prove fatal. Wiliwili are drought deciduous and when stressed the plants will typically drop their leaves, however, wiliwili are resilient plants and with continued care they will sprout again.

Historical Distribution

Price, J.P., Jacobi, J.D., Gon, S.M., III, Matsuwaki, D., Mehrhoff, L., Wagner, W., Lucas, M., and Rowe, B., 2012, Mapping plant species ranges in the Hawaiian Islands—Developing a methodology and associated GIS layers: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012–1192, 55 p., 1 appendix (species table), 1,158 maps.


Erythrina sandwicensis (Fabaceae) - wiliwili.JPG
Wiliwili seem to spend most of their time leafless, showing off their orange-algae bark.