Sida fallax
Starr 020112-0026 Sida fallax.jpg
黃花稔屬 Sida fallax -香港公園 Hong Kong Park- (33216289433).jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Sida
S. fallax
Binomial name
Sida fallax

Sida fallax, known as yellow ilima[1] or golden mallow,[2] is a species of herbaceous flowering plant in the Hibiscus family, Malvaceae, indigenous to the Hawaiian Archipelago and other Pacific Islands. Plants may be erect or prostrate and are found in drier areas in sandy soils, often near the ocean. ʻIlima is the symbol of Laloimehani and is the flower for the islands of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, and Abemama, Kiribati.

It is known as ʻilima or ʻāpiki in Hawaiian[3] and as kio in Marshallese,[4] te kaura in Kiribati, idibin ekaura in Nauruan,[5] and akatā in Tuvalu.[6]

In Hawaiian religion, the ʻilima flowers are associated with Laka, the goddess of the hula, and the plant's prosrate form with Pele's brother, Kane-ʻapua, the god of taro planters.[7] Lei made from ʻilima were believed to attract mischievous spirits (thus its alternative name, ʻāpiki), although some considered them to be lucky.[8]


The flowers are small, 0.75–1 in (1.9–2.5 cm) in diameter; have five petals; and range from golden yellow to orange in color.[9]

ʻIlima grows from 6 inches (150 mm) to 10 feet (3.0 m) tall in prostrate (beach growing) and erect (upland shrub) forms.[9] Lowland ʻilima, known as ʻilima papa, has silver-green foliage; mountain varieties have smooth, green foliage. Leaves can be long and narrow or rounded or heart-shaped with finely to coarsely serrated leaf margins. Flowers may be solitary or occur in small clusters.[10]


Native Hawaiians used ʻilima flowers to make lei,[11] and it is possibly the only plant cultivated specifically for lei-making in ancient Hawaiʻi. About 1,000 ʻilima blossoms are needed to make one strand of a lei.[12] ʻIlima is now planted as a commercial crop for flowers and garlands in Hawaiʻi and Kiribati; where it was once seen as only for use in lei for royalty, but it now can be worn by anyone.[7]

The flowers are sometimes also used as a food garnish,[13] and flowers and tender meristems are sometimes used to scent coconut oil in Nauru. The stems are used in weaving rough baskets, floor coverings, and in house thatching. The bushes are used to help prepare swamp taro beds in Hawaiʻi, and dried leaves and flowers are used as fertilizer, mulch, and sometimes compost in Kiribati.[7] S. fallax is sometimes used as a groundcover in tropical areas.

Traditionally, ʻilima was used medicinally to ease pregnancy and as a mild laxative.[11] The flowers were used in magic, particularly love magic;[7] for example, in Kiribati S. fallax flowers were mixed with coconut milk and bark from Premna serratifolia trees to promote true love.[14]


  1. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Sida fallax". The PLANTS Database (plants.usda.gov). Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  2. ^ Velde, Nancy Vander (August 2003). "The Vasuclar Plants of Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands" (PDF). Atoll Research Bulletin. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. 503: 1–141. doi:10.5479/si.00775630.503.1. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  3. ^ "ʻilima". Ulukau Hawaiian Electronic Dictionary. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  4. ^ "Native plants of the Marshalls". Republic of the Marshall Islands Biodiversity Clearing House Mechanism. RMI Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination (OEPPC). April 2004. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  5. ^ Thaman, R.R. (August 1987). "Plants of Kiribati: A Listing and Analysis of Vernacular Names" (PDF). Atoll Research Bulletin. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. 296: 1–42. doi:10.5479/si.00775630.296.1. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  6. ^ Naikatini, A. (2021). Field Guide for the Biodiversity Rapid Assessment Program (BioRAP) of Funafuti Atoll, Nukulaelae Atoll, Niutao Island and Vaitupu Island, Tuvalu – Technical Report (PDF) (Report). Vaiaku, Tuvalu: Ridge to Reef Unit, Department of Environment. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d Thaman, R.R. (May 1992). "Batiri Kei Baravi: The Ethnobotany of Pacific Island Costal Plants" (PDF). Atoll Research Bulletin. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. 361: 43. doi:10.5479/si.00775630.361.1. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  8. ^ "ʻāpiki". Ulukau Hawaiian Electronic Dictionary. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  9. ^ a b "Sida fallax ('Ilima)". www.ctahr.hawaii.edu. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  10. ^ Rauch, Fred D. (1997). "Ilima" (PDF). Cooperative Extension Service, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. p. 1. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  11. ^ a b "ʻilima, apiki, ʻilima lei, kapuaokanakamaimai. ʻilima ku kala, ʻilima makanaʻa". Hawaiian Ethnobotany Database. Bernice P. Bishop Museum. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  12. ^ Bornhorst, Heidi Leianuenue (2005). Growing Native Hawaiian Plants: A How-to Guide for the Gardener (Rev. ed.). Honolulu, Hawai'i: Bess Press. p. 19. ISBN 1-57306-207-3. OCLC 60589490.
  13. ^ "Native Plants Hawaii - Viewing Plant: Sida fallax". nativeplants.hawaii.edu. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  14. ^ Thaman, R.R. (January 1990). "Kiribati Agroforestry: Trees, People and the Atoll Environment" (PDF). Atoll Research Bulletin. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. 333: 21. doi:10.5479/si.00775630.333.1.