Collection, selection and evaluation of native Hawaiian plants for landscape and indoor uses.
The use and demand for native plants as ornamentals is increasing in the United States. In Hawaii, native plants have been promoted and utilized as a response to conservation and invasive species issues in the state. Despite increased use in the past three decades, the lack of cultivar/selections and care information still hinders its widespread use. To fill these gaps, a research program was initiated to collect, evaluate and propagate underutilized non-endangered plants for landscape/container and indoor uses. Collection of seeds, cuttings or divisions of target species from wild populations, nurseries and germplasm repositories across the state are ongoing. Species that are currently being studied include 'aweoweo (Chenopodium oahuense), 'ilima (Sida fallax), nehe (Melanthera integrifolia), pa'u o hi'iaka (Jacquemontia ovaliifolia) and 'ala'ala wai nui (Peperomia spp.). Morphological characterization indicated a wide variety of forms available for developing use specific selections. Differences in propagation approaches were also observed within and between species collections. Initial trials identified potential selections that are suitable for use in landscape/container and for indoor use. Production protocols are currently being refined for these selections.