Wiliwili seeds | How to Grow Wiliwili from Seeds and its Uses

Wiliwili seeds | How to Grow Wiliwili from Seeds and its Uses

Wiliwili seeds are the seeds of the Wiliwili tree of the family Leguminosae from Hawaii. It is characterized by spectacular brightly colored flowers which can be orange or red and has habitat in dry to mesic forest of Hawaiian Islands. These seeds normally rounded to oval and vary in size, colour being generally dark brown to black and contained in pods that burst at the seeds’ mature stage.

The Wiliwili tree is native to Hawaiian culture. In Hawaiian language, the word “Wiliwili” means “twist-twist” or repeatedly twisting. It is used in folklore as well as their physical uses, where the tree is viewed as important due to its use in making canons and other tools. At times, the seed portion is employed in native Hawaiian art or as the plantation for new trees’ germination.

How to plant and Grow Wiliwili tree from Seeds

Propagation of wiliwili from seed is possible and can be rather enjoyable process. Though, it requires patience as seeds take time to germinate and wiliwili tree is a slow growing tree.

wiliwili seeds

Materials Needed:

  • Wiliwili seeds
  • Potting mix or well-drained soil
  • Pots or Containers
  • A watering can or spray bottle
  • Warm, sunny place (in case they are grown in a controlled environment)
  • Optional: seedling trays: plastic foil or cover, known as humidity dome

Steps to follow:

  1. Seed Preparation:
  • The initial step in the process is to begin scarifying the seeds. This implies lightly penetrating or probing the external layer of the seed coat so as to allow water to get through and enhance germination.
  • Sometimes, it is safe to remove a tiny part of the seed coat. It can be done using a file or sand paper without compromising the seed within.
  1. Planting Seeds:
  • Plant the seeds 1 inch deep in the soil. Make sure your soil is nutrient rich and has well developed drainage system.

Tip: It is advisable to plant maximum of 3 seeds per pot in order to maximize the chances for germination.

  1. Watering:
  • Water the pots appropriately immediately after planting to make sure there is enough water for germination.
  • On the other hand, one should not overwater it because the seeds of the wiliwili tree may rot in the soil that has too much water.
  1. Location and Light:
  • For best results, place the pots where the plants will receive moderate heat from the sun.
  • These seed have optimal germination in conditions that range from 75-85 Fahrenheit or 21-29 degrees Celsius.
  • Sometimes, in indoor growing, it may be necessary to supplement the natural light with grow lights to facilitate seedling growth.
  1. Germination:
  • The seeds of wiliwili take few weeks or months to germinate. Ensure proper watering throughout this time to maintain appropriate soil moisture.
  • You can also cover them with plastic cover in order to maintain humidity and greenhouse like environment which is suitable for germination of the seeds.
  1. Care for Seedlings:
  • After germination, it is recommended that seedlings be maintained in a well-lit, indirect sunlight environment. It is better to place the plants on a slight shade to avoid severe burning of the tender seedling.
  • Maintain moisture of soil by watering at a reasonable frequency. Typically, it is best to allow the top layer of the soil to dry out slightly before adding more water to it.
  1. Transplanting:
  • As they grow, their stems strengthen and leaves appear. You can transplant the seedlings to bigger pots if necessary, or directly to the soil if the climate is favorable.
  • Select a site that is highly exposed to sunlight and where soil has a good drainage and transplant them there.
  1. Maintenance:
  • To continue to take care of your newly planted wiliwili tree, water it regularly and maintain its young plant care procedures.
  • Generally, wiliwili trees can withstand certain dryness once they are grown. Though, really deep watering occasionally would be beneficial for the plant growth.
  • Apply a balanced fertilizer sparingly when the plant is growing.

Useful Tips:

  • Patience: Growing of wiliwili from seeds is time-consuming because the seeds have been known to take time to develop into seedlings.
  • Protection: Shelter the young plants from strong winds and attacks from any viable pest in the area.
  • Climate Considerations: These trees prefer dry to mesic conditions and thus, watering should be amended according to this, once the plants are established.

By following these steps and giving the wiliwili seeds the required care they need, you can grow them into beautiful trees that you can see in your landscape while enjoying their symbolic importance.

Wiliwili Seeds Uses and Benefits

wiliwili plant

These seeds have various traditional and practical uses:

  1. Ornamental and Decorative Crafts: The seeds of this tree can be found in traditional Hawaiian leis, necklaces, bracelets, and many other ornaments. This is apparent due to their species being dark brown to black in color. And also they are moderate in size which makes them appropriate for ornamental purposes.
  2. Traditional Implements: Its usage has cultural and historical importance to the Hawaiian people, especially when it comes to the conventional use of wiliwili seeds. Before the steel’s availability, they were utilized in fishing where they were employed in balancing fishing nets and utilized in musical instruments as maracas.
  3. Medicinal Uses: Some of the folk medicines that exist in certain societies involve the use of extracts and preparations of different parts of the plant including the seeds of wiliwili tree. However, these uses are not well-documented nor scientifically proven and are mostly loosely classified as folk medicine.
  4. Educational and Cultural Significance: The seeds of Wiliwili trees are employed as teaching aids in an educational field in content on Hawaiian plants, authentications, and utilizing and conserving the earth. They remain as an evidence of the natural and cultural history of Hawaii. This shows everyone can have a touch of it and this, in one way benefits everyone.

Research on Wiliwili and Wiliwili seeds with References:

Literature regarding wiliwili and its seeds includes multiple scientific disciplines due to its emphasis on ecology, conservation, ethnobotany, and cultural importance.

Here are some notable studies and references related to wiliwili and its seeds:

  1. Ecological and Conservation Studies:

  • A study by Medeiros, et al. (2009) titled “A focus on naturalization: the ecology of introduced plants and animals in Hawai’i” discusses the effects created by wiliwili and its place in Hawai’i’s bio-history.
  • The study pays attention to the role and relevance of Wiliwili as well as comparative distribution of wiliwili in its natural environment.
  1. Germination and Propagation:

  • “Seed germination of Erythrina sandwicensis (Fabaceae): Implications for restoration” published in the Botanical Electronic News context, by Stacy et al. (2008) identies germination requirements of Wiliwili. This study includes the need for stratification and warm temperatures for successful seed germination and addresses possible implication to restoration.
  • This research gives information about the seed biomass, and germination circumstance of wiliwili with a concentration on scarification and environmental factors.
  1. Cultural and Ethnobotanical Studies:

  • M; Muell for “Plants of Hawaii” of the Bishop Museum lists the importance of wiliwili in Hawaiian culture, such as crafts and possibly in traditional medicines.
  • Ethnobotanical research often involves training, or consultation of the local people to gain insights regarding the cultural practices and the traditional knowledge they possess about Wiliwili.
  1. Conservation Genetics:

  • “Genetic structure of wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis), a threatened tree species endemic to the Hawaiian Islands” by Stacy et al. (2010) compares the genetic structure of wiliwili in different islands.
  • This genetic study helps in developing the future conservation and management plans for preserving wiliwili-populated areas’ genetic pool and mitigating threats to genetic variation.

All in all, these references explain the research on wiliwili as well as its seeds involves ecological, genetic, ethnobotanical and conservation perspectives. They offer details regarding the role of the species as a keystone species in the Hawaiians’ bio-physical environment and as a culturally valued species.

Beautiful Night View of Wiliwili Tree


Wiliwili Seeds for Sale:

If you are interested in purchasing the seeds of wiliwili, there are numerous outlets where you may locate them on the internet or at agri-suppliers. There are places where you can find these seeds for sale as highlighted below.

Online Retailers:

Amazon: Every now and then, Amazon has many vendors dealing in wiliwili.

Seed Suppliers: Numerous seed suppliers who deal with vegetables have their own online stores from which they sell these seeds. Some popular ones include:

  • Johhny’s Selected Seeds
  • Seedland
  • Hancock Seed Company
  • Outsidepride

Online Seed Exchanges and Marketplaces:

Etsy: Wandering through Etsy might bring about finding some smaller seed sellers who offer red clover seedlings along with other unique varieties sold by them.

Tips for Buying Seeds:

  • Quality: Look out for good quality seeds from reputable suppliers to ensure germination. Check their reviews and refund policies before making any purchases.


In summary, wiliwili seeds are appreciated for their ornamental, historical value, and to support indigenous plants in the region. They are used for the cultural artifacts, preservation, and implementation of cultural activities that are present in Hawaii. You can add these beautiful trees in your garden by following above mentioned guide.

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