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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #218588

Title: Propagation and Cultivation of 'Ohelo

item Zee, Francis
item Strauss, Amy
item Arakawa, Claire

Submitted to: Extension Publications
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/20/2008
Publication Date: 2/20/2008
Citation: Zee, F.T., Strauss, A.J., Arakawa, C.N. 2008. Propagation and Cultivation of 'Ohelo. Cooperative Extension Service, CTAHR, University of Hawaii. Fruits and Nuts F&N-13

Interpretive Summary: ‘Ohelo plants can be grown from seeds, seeds germinated readily in a potting mix of peat, vermiculite and perlite in 60-80% shade; the potting mix should be well watered and drained before use. Seedlings younger than three months were sensitive to over watering or becoming too dry, but when established, ‘ohelo seedlings are very hardy. ‘Ohelo thrived when foliar fertilized with diluted foliar fertilizers supplemented with slow release Nutricote® fertilizers. Some ‘ohelo seedlings were observed to flower in the nursery after ten months, much earlier than the five years as reported (Vander Kloet 1993; Wagner 1990). Sixteen (16) month old ‘ohelo seedlings were successfully field planted at the Volcano station with minimal additives; the inclusion of peat and sifted cinder for the purpose of lowering the pH and increasing drainage appeared to be counterproductive, and resulted in slow seedling decline three months after field planting. Much diversity was observed among seedlings in stature (spreading or upright), degree of vigor, bearing capacity, shoot and berry colors, insect and disease susceptibility. Few plants showed impressive berry load in the field, they were selected and propagated by cuttings, or in tissue culture. Small numbers of selected ‘ohelo clones will be made available periodically to nursery and research communities for research and propagation. We hope our efforts will stimulate the conservation and preservation of the ‘ohelo diversities in Hawaii through small scale sustainable domestication of selected clones, and reduce the wild harvest pressures.

Technical Abstract: Native ‘ohelo berry, Vaccinium reticulatum, Smith, commonly found in the Hawaii Volcanos National Park, Hawaii, and Haleakala National Park, Maui, are savored by both locals and visitors in jam, jelly and pie fillings. People frequently scour landscapes disrupting fragile ecosystems looking for the delectable red berries. Our study between November 2004 and July 2007 demonstrated that ‘ohelo can be grown readily from seeds, cuttings and tissue culture. Seedlings produced fruits as early as ten months from germination. Small scale sustainable production of selected ‘ohelo seedlings may have potential as an alternative to wild harvesting. We hope this information will strengthen the conservation and preservation of wild ‘ohelo populations in Hawaii.