Annotated Checklist of Cultivated Plants of Hawai‘i
Clyde T. Imada, George W. Staples, and Derral R. Herbst


This checklist was compiled between 1984 and 1999 in conjunction with the research for a book about the garden plants of the Hawaiian Islands—A Tropical Garden Flora (Staples & Herbst 2005). The checklist summarizes in outline form the number and identities of families, genera, and species of plants known to be cultivated in the Hawaiian Islands at the beginning of the twenty-first century. It serves as a companion to A Tropical Garden Flora and includes all the families, genera, and species covered in that book and many more besides. The checklist is updated from time to time as new information becomes available, thus it will evolve and change while the book remains static.

Understanding how many families, genera, and species of plants are cultivated in the Hawaiian Islands was an essential prerequisite to writing the new book based upon In Gardens of Hawaii (Neal 1965). Early on, it became clear that in the decades since Marie Neal last revised In Gardens, thousands of new plant species had been introduced into the Islands and it would be impossible to write a single volume that described and discussed all of them adequately. A decision was reached to cover only the most commonly cultivated species in A Tropical Garden Flora, and to compile a comprehensive checklist that would include at least the bare minimum of information for all those species not covered in the book itself. This bare minimum includes the names for the plants—accepted scientific name, synonyms and misapplied scientific names (if any), common names in the languages spoken in Hawai‘i—and some indication of the status of each species and locations (typically botanical gardens, arboreta, or other public plant collections) where it might be found in cultivation.

The checklist can be used in a variety of ways by anyone wanting information about the plants cultivated in the Hawaiian Islands. The checklist will quickly tell you whether a particular species is known to be present in the Islands and provide the correct scientific name for it, along with other names it might be passing under. While it is intended that the information presented here be of practical value to home gardeners, horticulturists, agriculturists, foresters, nurserymen, landscapers, and botanists, many other professionals in plant sciences and the “green industry” should find it a useful reference. From a biodiversity standpoint, this checklist provides the most comprehensive listing ever assembled of alien plant species introduced to the Hawaiian Island. Thus, those working in the disciplines of ecology, conservation, land management, and land use planning, as well as government agencies faced with issues related to alien plant species and the biological problems associated with them, will find this checklist to be a reference useful in their respective lines of research and regulation.

How many plant species are included here? The numbers are continuously changing as new information becomes available. As of December 1993, project staff had compiled a list of over 12,400 scientific and cultivar names for cultivated ferns, gymnosperms, and flowering plants grown in the Hawaiian Islands, including about 9,900 accepted names and 2,500 synonyms in over 280 families and 2,500 genera. Current totals are listed in the table below.

Current Totals for Names in the Cultivated Plants Database

Rank Total Accepted

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