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Products > Portulaca molokiniensis
Portulaca molokiniensis - 'Ihi

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Portulacaceae (Purslanes)
Origin: Pacific Islands
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Fall
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Portulaca molokiniensis ('Ihi) An upright growing succulent that branches from the base to form a small shrub 12 inches tall by about as wide with upright inch thick round corky stems bearing 1 to 2 inch long rounded pale green succulent leaves that are arranged neatly in 4 distinct rows towards the branch tips. A cluster of small lemon yellow cup-shaped flowers subtended by leafy bracts form at the ends of stout non-leaf bearing stems that rise above a terminal rosette of leaves. We had not seen this plant flower in cultivation until Mike Tully of Terra Sol Nursery brought one into the nursery in the fall of 2012 - nice but it is the foliage of this plant that really makes it unique. This plant has not been widely cultivated but the general information is that it should be grown in full sun to light shade in a very well-draining soil and watered regularly to occasionally spring through fall. It is listed by some as hardy to 20 F but we cannot verify this. We have lost this plant in the winter but likely because of the combination of wet and cold - likely this plant would be best suited in such a well drained soil that this is not an issue or in a location protected from receiving winter moisture. This is an extremely attractive plant and should make a beautiful and unique specimen as a container planting or in a garden setting in a raised bed or raised planter. Portulaca molokiniensis is a rare endemic to the Hawaiian islands where it known to grow in loose volcanic scree on steep slopes and in sand near the seaside on the arid islets of Molokini and Pu'ukoa'e and at Kanhio Bay on Kaho'olawe off the west coast of Maui. Though many think of the Hawaiian islands as lush and moist, the collection sites on these islands are on the leeward, rainshadow side and are extremely dry. Though this plant was first collected by Charles N. Forbes on Molokini in February 1913, it was identified as Portulaca lutea, a plant more widely distributed throughout the Pacific islands. It was collected once again as Portulaca lutea in the 1920's and then not documented again until collections made in the late 1970's and early 1980's where the distinctiveness of the plant was noted and it was officially described as a new species by Hawaii forester Bob Hobdy in 1987. The specific epithet reference the collection location on Molokini.  The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Portulaca molokiniensis.