G. brighamii is a small tree, reaching a height of 5 m (16 ft). The glossy, dark green leaves are ovate, 2.2–10.5 cm (0.87–4.13 in) long and 1.5–5.5 cm (0.59–2.17 in) wide. The petals of the solitary, white flowers are fused at the base to form a tube 15–20 mm (0.59–0.79 in) in length and have six lobes.
Habitat and range
Forest Gardenia inhabits tropical dry forests at elevations of 350–520 m (1,150–1,710 ft). It previously could be found on all main islands, but today populations only exist on Maui, Molokaʻi, Oʻahu, and Lānaʻi, and the Big Island.
The total population of G. brighamii is between 15 and 19 trees. There are only two plants in the wild on Oʻahu and one on the Big Island. Major threats to the survival of this species include loss of dry forest habitat and the establishment of invasive species, such as Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum).
Native Hawaiians made kua kuku (kapa anvils) and pou (house posts) from the wood of nānū. A yellow kapa dye was derived from the fruit pulp. The white, fragrant flowers are used in lei. Today, it is grown as an ornamental plant on the islands.
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- Bruegmann, M.M. & Caraway, V. 2003. Gardenia brighamii. 2010 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 25 March 2011.
- "Taxon: Gardenia brighamii H. Mann". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-08-28. Retrieved 2011-01-10.
- "Gardenia brighamii (Rubiaceae)". Meet the Plants. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2011-01-10.
- "Gardenia brighamii". CPC National Collection Plant Profile. Center for Plant Conservation. 2010-03-04. Retrieved 2011-01-10.
- Barboza, Rick (2006-09-08). "Rare plant’s fragrance has hint of coconut". Honolulu Star-bulletin 11 (251).
- "nanu, nau". Hawaii Ethnobotany Online Database. Bernice P. Bishop Museum. Retrieved 2011-03-25.