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Ho'olehua Plant Materials Center (HIPMC)
Serving the State of Hawaii and the Pacific Basin Area islands of Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau.

Established: 1957
Size: 81.18 of acres
PMC Operation: NRCS
Land Ownership: Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

Field of ‘Tropic Sun' sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) planted for cover crop.The Plant Materials Program first established a PMC in Hawaii in 1957, on island of Maui.  In 1973 the center was relocated to the island of Molokai, on the fertile agricultural plains of Ho’olehua.  Today, the 80 acre Hoolehua Plant Materials Center is responsible for servicing the needs for the entire Pacific Island Area (PIA). The PIA is a vast region that is divided into two sub-areas: The East and the West. The East Area includes the State of Hawaii and American Samoa. The West Area includes the Territory of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Soils of the PIA are derived from volcanic lava, eruptive deposits of ash, tuff and cinders, and limestone and alluvial deposits from coral reefs. Land use is diversified with large acreages devoted to ranching, sugarcane, macadamia nuts, coffee, and pineapple and smaller acreages used for truck crops, orchards, and subsistence farming. Major resource concerns include livestock production limitations, soil erosion, soil quality degradation, and degraded plant conditions. These are addressed through plant-based technology development and education through public outreach.

The Ho'olehua Plant Materials Center has developed 10 conservation plant releases including sunn hemp, desmodium, paspalum. Seashore paspalum, perennial soybean, tall erythrina, and 4 native Hawaiian plants, aweoweo, aalii, kawelu, and piligrass. Recently, there has been a shift of focus for the HIPMC from conservation plant release development to information technology development and providing answers to plant-related questions that NRCS field staff may have.



Address Critical Areas

  • Developed 2 grasses, 'Tropic Lalo' paspalum and 'Tropic Shore' seashore paspalum, for high traffic pathways and shore and stream bank stabilization.
  • Develop 4 native Hawaiian plant species (2 grasses and 2 shrubs) to control erosion in the PIA
  • Investigated The Use of Piligrass Hay Bales for the Island of Kaho’olawe Highly Erodible Site to promote the use of native piligrass hay bales throughout the PIA.
  • Seedling Survivability of Zeba-Treated Seeds of Two Native Hawaiian Plant Species: Eragrostis variabilis and Dodonaea viscosa
  • Finding Ways to Increase the Large Scale Utilization of Native Hawaiian Plants for Erosion Control
  • Several studies to investigate the control of weeds using herbicides when establishing native plants
  • The Hawaii Vegetative Guide helps conservation planners and stakeholders with the selection of conservation plants adapted to Hawaii.
  • Developed protocols for establishing natives along roadside right-of-ways in collaboration with the University of Hawaii at Manoa


Addressing Degraded Plant Conditions

  • 'Tropic Sun' sunn hemp is a fast growing, leguminous, green manure crop that improves soil structure by the addition of nitrogen and organic matter and reduces soil erosion and the dependence on man-made fertilizers. 
  • Supported the national study of ‘Tropic Sun’ sunn hemp to determine adaptability and potential seed production limitations.
  • Supported the establishment of ‘Tropic Sun’ sunn hemp commercial seed producers including 2 international growers and 2 domestic growers.

Ho'olehua Plant Materials Center
P.O. Box 236
Hoolehua, HI 96729
Shipping address: 4101 Maunaloa Highway
Phone: (808) 567-6885
(855) 878-2408