Gardenia brighamii

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Gardenia brighamii
Starr 030523-0050 Gardenia brighamii.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Gardenia
Species: G. brighamii
Binomial name
Gardenia brighamii

Gardenia brighamii, commonly known as nānū, naʻu, or forest gardenia, is a species of flowering plant in the coffee family, Rubiaceae, that is endemic to Hawaii.[3]


Gardenia brighamii is a small tree, reaching a height of 5 m (16 ft).[3] The glossy, dark green leaves[4] 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[edit]

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.[3]


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.[5] 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).[3]


Native Hawaiians made kua kuku (kapa anvils)[3] and pou (house posts) from the wood of nānū.[5] A yellow kapa dye was derived from the fruit pulp.[6] The white, fragrant flowers are used in lei. Today, it is grown as an ornamental plant on the islands.[5]


  1. ^ Bruegmann, M.M. & Caraway, V. 2003. Gardenia brighamii. 2010 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Archived June 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Downloaded on 25 March 2011.
  2. ^ "Taxon: Gardenia brighamii H. Mann". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-08-28. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Gardenia brighamii (Rubiaceae)". Meet the Plants. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  4. ^ "Gardenia brighamii". CPC National Collection Plant Profile. Center for Plant Conservation. 2010-03-04. Archived from the original on 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  5. ^ a b c Barboza, Rick (2006-09-08). "Rare plant's fragrance has hint of coconut". Honolulu Star-bulletin. 11 (251). 
  6. ^ "nanu, nau". Hawaii Ethnobotany Online Database. Bernice P. Bishop Museum. Archived from the original on 2007-07-02. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 

External links[edit]