Myoporum sandwicense

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Myoporum sandwicense
Starr 060305-6527 Myoporum sandwicense.jpg
Conservation status
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Tribe: Myoporeae
Genus: Myoporum
Species: M. sandwicense
Binomial name
Myoporum sandwicense

Myoporum sandwicense is a species of flowering tree in the figwort family, Scrophulariaceae. Common names include naio, bastard sandalwood or false sandalwood. It is native to Hawaiʻi and Mangaia in the Cook Islands.[2]


M. sandwicense grows as either a small tree, large tree, or dwarf shrub, depending on the elevation and conditions. As a small tree, it reaches a height of 9 metres (30 ft) with a trunk diameter of 0.3 metres (0.98 ft). The largest naio have a height of 18 metres (59 ft) and a trunk diameter of 0.9 metres (3.0 ft). At the tree line, naio grows as a 0.6-metre (2.0 ft) shrub.[3] The leaves are green, waxy, and typically pointed, while the bark of the naio tends to be dark gray, although the bark of one unique variety on the island of Oʻahu is covered in fine, brown hairs.[4] The flowers of M. sandwicense bloom year round and are generally white or pink and bell-shaped, with a fragrant odor[2] and a turpentine taste.[4] The fruit is a waxy white drupe that is 8 millimetres (0.31 in) in diameter, juicy, and bitter.[3] They usually dry out and remain attached to the branch.


The common variety of M. sandwicense was described by Asa Gray.[5] A number of varieties exist, specifically degeneri Webster, fauriei (Levl.) Kraenzlin, lanaiense Webster, st.-johnii Webster, and stellatum Webster.[6] In addition, a prostrate, shrubby variety known as naio papa ("flat naio") grows only at South Point on the island of Hawaiʻi and is characterized by its similarities to creeping shrubs.[7]


The distribution of M. sandwicense in the United States is limited to the state of Hawaiʻi.[5] Within the state, it is found on all of the major islands[2] at elevations from sea level to 2,380 metres (7,810 ft).[8] Naio can be found in a variety of habitats, including low shrublands, dry forests, mesic forests, and wet forests, but is most common in subalpine shrublands.[2]

Outside of the United States, M. sandwicense is also found on Mangaia in the Cook Islands.[9]


M. sandwicense can be cultivated using seeds separated from the fruit - the average germination time varies by reports but is most commonly noted as taking between six and eighteen months. Propagation by cuttings and air layering is also possible.[2]


The finely-textured wood of M. sandwicense is hard and has a specific gravity of 0.55.[3] Native Hawaiians, who called the wood ʻaʻaka, used it to make manu (bow and stern ornamental end pieces) and pale (gunwales) for waʻa (outrigger canoes), pou (house posts),[9] haha ka ʻupena (fishing net spacers),[8] and lamalama (long-burning torches for night fishing). The oily wood was also used as a substitute for ʻiliahi (Santalum spp.) due to the similarity in smell when burned.[4] For a short time in the 19th century after most ʻilliahi had been harvested, naio was exported to China, where it was made into incense and burned in Joss houses.[10] However, unlike true sandalwood, the wood of naio does not retain its scent for long periods, as when made into furniture.


Currently, a large mixed māmane (Sophora chrysophylla)-naio forest on the island of Hawaiʻi serves as the home of the Palila (Loxioides bailleui), an endangered native bird.[4]


  1. ^ "Myoporum sandwicense". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2008-08-25. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Myoporum sandwicense (Naio)". Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  3. ^ a b c Little Jr., Elbert L.; Roger G. Skolmen (1989). "Naio, false-sandalwood" (PDF). United States Forest Service. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Naio". Native Hawaiian Plants. Kapiʻolani Community College. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  5. ^ a b "PLANTS Profile for Myoporum sandwicense (Naio)". PLANTS Database. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  6. ^ "Myoporum sandwicense (Bastard Sandalwood, Naio, Sandal-wood)". Potomac, MD, USA: Bayscience Foundation Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  7. ^ Barboza, Rick (24 January 2003). "In the Garden - Naio papa". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  8. ^ a b "naio, naeo, naieo". Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database. Bernice P. Bishop Museum. Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  9. ^ a b Medeiros, A. C.; C.F. Davenport; C.G. Chimera (1998). "Auwahi: Ethnobotany of a Hawaiian Dryland Forest" (PDF). Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. 
  10. ^ Thrum, Thomas George (1891). Hawaiian almanac and annual for 1892. Honolulu, Hawaiʻi: Press Publishing Co. Steam Print. p. 93. OCLC 746499177. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2009-08-24. Retrieved 2013-03-03.  See also Thrum's Hawaiian Annual

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