Ļo (Hibiscus tiliaceus - Malvaceae)

Description: Ļo is a tropical shrub or small tree in the hibiscus (or mallow) family that sometimes grows to heights of 10 m (35 ft) or more. It produces large, heart-shaped, or round leaves and attractive, five-petaled, yellow flowers that are 4-6 cm (2-3 in) long and purple at the inside base.

Distribution: Ļo is widespread throughout the Pacific, but may not be native to the some islands in the eastern part of the region. People may have brought this fast-growing useful plant to the Eastern Pacific, perhaps very early in prehistoric times. Although ļo is not very common on atolls in the Pacific, it is found in many areas of the Marshall Islands.

Uses: Ļo is a very useful plant. Its wood furnishes fuel, construction materials for canoes and houses, and fishing gear, such as frames for nets to catch flying fish. Special poles to pick breadfruit (komkom) are made of ļo. Floats of ļo are used to hold a submerged string that attracts shell bearing animals; the captured shells are then used to beautify handicrafts. Those who wish to honor a person of high rank may make a lei from the inner bark fiber of ļo and cowrie shells. A traditional dye is produced by combining ļo and joñ (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza) fruit. In addition, pliable and relatively strong fiber can be extracted from the inner bark of plant. This fiber was used in the Marshall Islands to make traditional clothing for both women and men. It is also used in the construction of fans and rope. The attractive yellow flowers of the plant are used in the making of head and necklace garlands (ut and marmar). Leaves of ļo are used to wrap food that is put in the earth oven (um). Medicinally, leaves of ļo are mixed with coconut juice in a coconut shell cup and drunk during pregnancy to help delivery. The flowers are sometimes rubbed over skin rashes as a cure.

Main Plants


invisible hit counter