Vaccinium calycinum – Ohelo Kau La'au

Vaccinium calycinum - Ohelo Kau La'au, Tree Ohelo

Vaccinium calycinum - Ohelo Kau La'au, Tree Ohelo

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Vaccinium calycinum

Synonym: Vaccinium dentatum var. minutifolium

Common Names: Ohelo Kau La'au, Tree Ohelo

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial, Deciduous

Growth Habit: Shrub

Hawaii Native Status: Native (endemic)

Flower Color: Green to tinged yellowish or reddish

Height: Up to 16 feet (5 m) tall, but often less

Description: The flowers are tubular, cylindrical to urn-shaped, triangular-lobed, and up to almost 1/2 inch (12 mm) long. The flowers are followed by round, bright red, up to 2/3 inch (15 mm) in diameter berries with numerous small seeds. The leaves are green, hairless, alternate, saw-toothed, 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) long, and egg-shaped to obovate (narrower near the base and wider near the tip). The shrubs are clumping and have multiple, erect branches.

Ohelo Kau La'au grows in wet native rainforests and in bogs.

Two other, very similar Vaccinium species are found here in Hawaii, but Ohelo 'Ai (Vaccinium reticulatum) is a smaller plant and has more flavorful berries and smaller leaves, while Ohelo (Vaccinium dentatum) is also a smaller plant and has more sharply toothed, elliptic leaves.

Special Characteristics

Edible – The fruits are sweet and edible, but they are rather insipid not nearly as flavorful as those of Ohelo 'Ai.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Dilleniidae
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae – Heath family
Genus: Vaccinium L. – blueberry
Species: Vaccinium calycinum Sm. – ohelo kau la'au

More About This Plant

Hawaii County Distribution Map