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Photo Credit:

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Photo Credit: Forest and Kim Star

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Photo Credit: Molly Murphy


  • SYNONYMS Canthium lucidum Canthium odoratum Coffea odorata Plectronia odorata Psydrax odoratum
  • FAMILY Rubiaceae
  • PLANT TYPE Shrub
  • WATER REQUIRMENTS Drought tolerant
  • SOIL REQUIRMENTS Tolerates many soil types
  • SUN EXPOSURE Full sun to Partial sun
  • SALT TOLERANCE Moderately salt tolerant
  • DRAINAGE REQUIRED Requires good drainage

Psydrax odorata
(alahe`e, walahe`e)

A member of the Coffee or Gardenia family, the Psydrax odorata can be grown from shrub to large tree in size and is slow-growing. It prefers dry conditions but can tolerate moistness if soil is well-drained. It looks and does best in full sun. They are desired for their showy, white flowers and great fragrance (offering a superb native planting substitute for mock orange). It is an easy to grow shrub that will thrive in most areas as little maintenance is required. It is found in both dry and wet areas, provided an appropriate trade off of adequate drainage and regular water. This shrub can grow to 25 ft and is very hardy when established. Although typically propagated by seed, borers sometimes infest the seeds, reducing the possibility for reproduction but otherwise not effecting the plant. The Hawaiian name alahe`e means, "slippery like the squid (octopus)", and spears were fashioned for capturing he?e (octopus) were often made from alahe`e. Other early Hawaiians uses include woodworking (tools, bowls, fishing gear), lei making, creating dyes, and medicinal purposes.

Plant Uses

  • Privacy-screening plant
  • Specimen
  • Container plant
  • Windbreak
  • Shade
  • Ornamental
  • Medicinal
  • Cultural significance
  • Lei flower
  • Fragrant
  • Hedge
  • Woodworking


Toxic to animals-humans