Alectryon macrococcus

leaf Main Plant Information






  • auwahiensis
  • macrococcus

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Māhoe
  • ʻAlaʻalahua

Hawaiian Names

  • Alaalahua
  • Mahoe

Common Names

  • Hawaiʻi alectryon


  • Alectryon macrococcus
  • Alectryon mahoe

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

Federally Listed

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Tree

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Shrub, Tall, Greater than 10
  • Tree, Dwarf, Less than 15
  • Tree, Small, 15 to 30
  • Tree, Medium, 30 to 50

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

No data available.

Additional Landscape Use Information

This very scarce tree is rarely seen in botanical gardens and perhaps not at all or very limited in urban or commercial landscapes.

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Blooming Period

  • Spring
  • May
  • June

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Based on photographic evidence, perhaps a spring bloomer, though this period may extend to other months.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green
  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

The differnce between the two varieties of Alectryon macrococcus are based of the leaves. The variety auwahiensis, restricted to Auwahi, Maui, has lower leaflet surfaces covered with dense rusty  fuzz (tomentose), while var. macrococcus has less fuzz or absent (glabrous), except for those on Kauaʻi which have dense brown fuzz on young plants but becoming sparse or glabrate (no fuzz) at maturity.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

Rats and seed boring insects are known pests of māhoe, which destroy the seeds.

The black twig-borer (Xylosandrus compactus) destroys the twigs and eventually the entire tree if not treated with a systemic pesticide that targets the pest.

In its natural habitat, fire, grazing cattle, black-tailed deer (Kauaʻi), and axis deer (Molokaʻi and Maui) threatened populations of māhoe. [2]

leaf Growth Requirements

Water Requirements

  • Dry
  • Moist

Additional Water Information

Water requirements are based on the dry to mesic habitat of this species.

Soil must be well drained


Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Additional Lighting Information

Based on habitat information and related species, Sapindus spp. and (Dodonaea viscosa), probably full sun is required for māhoe.

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Maui

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
  • 3000 to 3999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
  • 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)


  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

Alectryon var. auwahiensis is found from about 2590 to over 3500 feet on East Maui, and var. macrococcus from about 1180 to 2625 feet on Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, and West Maui in dry to mesic forest. [2]

Alectryon var. macrococcus is most common in parts of Kauaʻi (Olokele Canyon to Kalalau Gulch) and in the Waiʻanae Mountains, Oʻahu, but relatively rare on Molokaʻi and West Maui (Honokōwai Ditch Trail and Kahakapao Gulch), and now extinct in the Kipapa Gulch, Koʻolau Mountains, Oʻahu.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

Māhoe (Alectryon macrococcus) belongs to the large international Soapberry family or Sapindaceae. Other well known family members include maple (Acer spp.), horse chestnut, guarana, lychee, longan, and rambutan.

Native members include the endemic Lonomea, or Āulu, (Sapindus oahuensis), and two indigenous species mānele (Sapindus saponaria) and ʻAʻaʻliʻ (Dodonaea viscosa).


The generic name Alectryon is from the Greek alektryon, cock, perhaps in reference to the resemblance of the red aril to a cock's comb.

The specific and varietal name macrococcus is from the Greek, macrococca, having large fruit, in reference to the large fruit (arils) of this species.

The varietal name auwahiensisis from Auwahi, East Maui where this species is found.

Hawaiian Name:

Māhoe means "twin," possibly referring to the twin, or single, fruits produced.

Background Information

Alectryon macrococcus has become less common during the past 100 years or so, but was apparently was more common at least on East Maui during the early decades of the 20th century. This decline is probably related to the fact that seedlings are rarely encountered because boring insects and rats destroy most of the seeds formed.

Early Hawaiian Use

The hard wood was apparently not used by early Hawaiians, presumably because of its rarity.


The fleshy arils and seeds were eaten. The aril has an insipid and slightly sweet flavor and the seed has a mild flavor.

Modern Use

Though formerly eaten, this tree is critically endangered in the wild and cannot currently be grown for consumption. [1]

Additional References

[1] "An Edible Hawaiian Garden" by Chuck Chimera in "Hawaii Landscape" May/June 2013, page 27.

[2] "Taxon Summary: Alectryon macrococcus var. macrococcus" Final Implemenation Plan for Mākua Military Reservation, Island of Oʻahu by the University of Hawaii at Manoa, pages 16-12 to 16-14.



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