Sida fallax

Official Flower of Oahu

This bright yellow flower has special significance to the people of the Hawaiian Islands. It is the official flower of the Island of O’ahu. It was the flower of choice for leis by Hawaiian Royalty, but these flower necklaces took nearly 500 flowers and didn’t last into the next day. ‘Ilima is also indigenous to Hawaii and other islands in the Pacific.

General Description

‘Ilima has a few different growth forms. It can grow as a small shrub from one to five feet tall. Near the seashore it grows fairly flat on the ground, spreading out along rocky substrate. Inland, in the dry forests, it grows more upright and sturdy. The flowers are ½ to 1 inch wide, yellow orange and parted. Like others in the Malvaceae family, the male stamen are arranged around a tube in the middle of the flower. Leaves are light green, with serrated edges (margins). Some leaves have tiny, soft hairs but others do not. It is found from sea level up to about 6,000 feet.


The beautiful ‘illima flowers are particularly common on the drier sides of the islands and along the seashore. Unlike many of Hawaii’s native flora, ‘ilima grows well in somewhat disturbed areas.

Medicinal Uses

The flowers of ‘ilima were used as a source of medicine by native Hawaiians to cure general debility, womb disorders, and asthma. Juices from the flower were squeezed out to make a gentle baby laxative called kamakamaika’i.

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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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