Pa'u 'o Hi'iaka (Jacquemontia ovalifolia ssp. sandwicensis)
Location: Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii
This pretty little wildflower is called Pa'u 'o Hi'iaka, which translates to 'skirt of Hi'iaka. (In Hawaiian mythology, Hi'iaka was a sister to the volcano goddess, Pele).
Pa'u 'o Hi'iaka is a member of the Morning Glory family. It is a perennial, and is seen mostly in coastal areas on the leeward sides of the Hawaiian Islands. It roots in small patches of dirt between rocks and spreads out as a trailing vine.
At one time, this pant was thought to be a Hawaiian endemic, i.e., found only in Hawaii. Older books and reference materials give the scientific name as Jacquemonita sandwicensis. More recently it was determined to be a subspecies of Jacquenmontia ovalifolia, which is found in some other tropical areas such as Mexico and the West Indies. As a result, the status of Pa'u 'o Hi'iaka was changed from 'endemic' to 'indigenous' to Hawaii, and its full scientific name is now Jacquemontia ovalifolia ssp. sandwicensis - quite a mouthful of a name for such a dainty little flower!