Sporobolus virginicus, known as ʻAkiʻaki in Hawaiian, belongs to the Poaceae (Grass family). Of the seven or eight species now found in Hawaii, only this species is indigenous.
The genus name Sporobolus is derived from the Greek sporos, seed, and ballein, to throw, in reference to the fruit (the pericarp) which swells and bursts when soaked, thus pushing out or dropping the seed. Dropseed is a vernacular name for this grass.
The specific epithet virginicus has reference to “from the Virgin Islands, Virginian.” The leaves, culms and roots were used medicinally. The plant was mixed with other ingredients and used to treat ʻea (thrush) and pāʻaoʻao (childhood disease, with physical weakening).
ʻAkiʻaki is currently used for erosion control on sand dunes and other unstable coastal areas.