Peperomia, a member of the family Piperaceae, is a large, pantropical genus comprising ≈1600 species worldwide (Frodin, 2004; Lim et al., 2019). Many species and cultivars of Peperomia have been popular as small houseplants since the 1930s (Griffith, 2006).
In Hawaii, the genus Peperomia comprises two indigenous and 23 endemic species (Wagner et al., 1999). These account for nearly one-quarter of the species diversity in the Pacific Islands (Lim et al., 2019). Although several Hawaiian species possess a compact growing habit and have interesting leaf and stem coloration, research of the ornamental potential of these native species has been limited. Currently, Peperomia blanda is the only native Hawaiian species that is commercially sold as an ornamental/landscape plant in the state (Baldos and Corpuz, 2019).
Peperomia sandwicensis Miq. is a small perennial herb that is endemic to the islands of Kauai, Oahu, and Molokai. It typically grows up to 30 cm tall and is found growing on top of moss-covered rocks, in soil, or as an epiphyte in wet to mesic valleys to wet forests at elevations between 250 and 1220 m above sea level (Wagner et al., 1999). Its small size, dark green upper leaf surface, reddish stems, and reddish leaf undersides suggest its potential use as an indoor plant. This germplasm release article describes ‘Palikea’, an Oahu Island selection of Peperomia sandwicensis.
Baldos, O.C. & Corpuz, A.K. 2019 Survival of four native Hawaiian Peperomia species under three indoor light conditions HortScience 54 9 S229
Lim, J.Y., Marshall, C.R., Zimmer, E.A. & Wagner, W.L. 2019 Multiple colonizations of the Pacific by Peperomia (Piperaceae): Complex patterns of long-distance dispersal and parallel radiations on the Hawaiian Islands J. Biogeogr. 46 12 2651 2662 doi: 10.1111/jbi.13717