Sustainable Bioresources was first and organized in Maryland in 2006 as a Limited Liability Company (LLC).  In Hawaii, it is registered by the Hawaii Department Commerce and Consumer Affairs as a Foreign Limited Liability Company.  The name Sustainable Bioresources is also in use as our trademark.

Our facility at Frederick, Maryland was licensed as a plant dealer and broker by the Maryland Department of Agriculture before we moved all operations to Hawaii. Our nursery here in Hawaii is certified by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and we maintain U.S. Department of Agriculture permits as required for importing plants and seeds, including those listed as Protected Species.


Research Mission and Objectives

We are a small business primarily engaged in research and development of new cultivars of plants for organic, sustainable cultivation as crops, educational purposes and uses in new proprietary products including drugs, nutraceuticals, foods and biopesticides.  Our capabilities also include provision of consulting services relating to environmental health practice, hazardous waste management and sustainable purchasing systems.

Many of the plants that we are working with are threatened or endangered.  We believe that our work augments conservation efforts by providing alternatives to obtaining plant material from wild populations that are under increasing stress from habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, overharvesting and other factors.  New plant cultivars adapted to artificial cultivation also increase opportunities to for ex-situ preservation and propagation where native habits have been irreversibly altered and do not favor successful reintroduction of extirpated species.

Research Focus: Our current plant research projects are focused on two distinct genera of plants – Hoodia and Moringa and this work is described on the respective project sections of this website.  Products and services relating to this research are offered through respective registered trade names, Hawaiian Hoodia and Moringa Research Products that correspond to wholly owned divisions of the company.

Our more limited work with endangered and threatened native plants will be posted in the Hawaiian Plants section of this website under development.   Research on other species will be listed by plant family in the Plant Information section of this website.  Much of the previously posted content in this section was lost due to technical problems and will be restored as time permits.

Research Related Registrations:

SBIR Registration.  We are registered with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and are eligible to submit proposals and receive funding under this program.  The SBIR program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.

R&D Tax Credits.  Our activities primarily consist of “qualified research” as defined by the Internal Revenue Service Section 41d and we are certified by the Hawaii Department of Taxation as eligible to receive tax credits for qualified research activities performed in 2016. 

Other Company Activities

Plant Sales.  We offer seeds and some plants from our nursery and research activities for sale through local outlets and our seasonably operated online Plant Store that is currently closed.

Environmental Health and Consulting Services.  As described above our company’s activities are currently focused on development of agricultural research and development projects.  However, our expertise also includes general environmental health practice with specialization in hazardous materials management. This has been applied to development of innovative approaches for integrating sustainability, health and substance related risk reduction objectives in purchasing decisions and systems.  Under our charter and existing licenses and charter we are authorized to provide research and consulting services relating to these areas of expertise.

Sustainable Purchasing Systems.  We have specialized expertise in development of sustainable purchasing (green purchasing) systems, particularly those aspects relating to the identification and reduction of toxic, hazardous, polluting and unsustainable chemicals in products and services, and selection of safer alternatives.  This expertise will be used to develop additional services and products in separate business ventures currently under consideration with other entities.  These activities will be conducted through Sustainable Purchasing Systems (SPS), a wholly owned division and registered trade name of Sustainable Bioresources, LLC.

Government Contracting Services

Federal Contracting.  We are a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and registered as an entity in the System of Award Management (SAM) to business with the U.S. Government.  Sustainable Bioresources is also now certified by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as a “qualified HUBZone small business concern (SBC)”.  HUBZone is a program for small companies that operate and employ people in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones).  This certification improves our access to federal awards.

State of Hawaii Contracting.  We are registered as a vendor with Hawaii Compliance Express and HlePRO, the the State of Hawaii eProcurement System.


Company Officers

Edward Rau is the founding owner and president of our company, and Principal Investigator for its several active research projects.  Ed has an undergraduate degree in biology and a master of science degree in environmental and occupational health from California State University at Northridge.  He also completed an additional certificate program in hazardous materials management at the University of California, Davis.

Ed has over 40 years of professional experience in environmental health practice, hazardous materials management and research.  Prior to leading the company on a full-time basis, he worked in various positions in the private and public sectors as a chemical technician and Registered Sanitarian.  In 1978, he joined the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) as an officer and was assigned to various positions of increasing responsibility in the Indian Health Service and hazardous waste management at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  After 30 years of service he retired from active duty with the USPHS as an Environmental Health Director holding the rank of Captain.  He continued working with the NIH for another five years in a civilian position as a Special Assistant to the Director of the Division of Environmental Protection.  In that capacity, he created and lead sustainability innovation projects including the Substances of Concern Reduction Initiative and development of novel methods to facilitate incorporation of diverse sustainability related requirements into electronic purchasing systems.

Over his career, Ed received numerous uniformed services and civilian commendations.  He created and lead the Mad as a Hatter Campaign for a Mercury-Free NIH and developed new training materials to improve awareness of the potential role of role of mercury contamination in promoting development of resistance to antibiotics in bacteria.  For the campaign effort, he received the American Chemical Society’s 2005 Howard Fawcett Award for outstanding contributions in chemical health and safety.  Two projects that he subsequently created and promoted while assigned to the NIH received White House GreenGov presidential awards from the Bush and Obama administrations.  In 2009, the NIH laboratory building decontamination and decommissioning process, now referred to as Sustainable High Efficiency Deconstruction (SHED) received the Closing the Circle GreenGov award for the category Seeds of Change, and in 2013 the Substances of Concern Reduction Initiative received the award for the category Sustainable Innovation.

While assigned to NIH Captain Rau carried out applied research activities relating to his hazardous waste management responsibilities.  This included development of minimization and treatment methods for mixed waste (radioactive hazardous waste) and other multihazardous waste streams generated by biomedical research activities.  Working with other NIH investigators he also devised novel apparatus and experiments to investigate the extreme resistance of prions, the agents responsible for mad cow disease, scrapie and other spongiform encephalopathies to thermal inactivation.  The apparatus simulated conditions in a medical waste incinerator and captured emissions from burning tissues containing a thermally resistant strain of scrapie.  These studies defined the extreme conditions necessary for inactivation of the agent and led Ed to propose a new theory of agent replication by means of inorganic templates.  This work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and coauthored with Dr. Carleton Gajdusek, a Nobel Laureate and other leading prion researchers.

Ed is a Registered Hazardous Substance Professional and licensed in Maryland licensed as an Environmental Health Specialist.  He holds active memberships in the American Chemical Society, National Environmental Health Association, Alliance of Hazardous Materials Professionals, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, the Cosmos Club of Washington DC, Medical Reserve Corps of the Hawaii Department of Health, and a newly formed local Community Emergency Response Team for the Discovery Harbour area of Hawaii.


Marvelle Rau is a co-owner and Secretary of our company.  She has a degree in nursing, currently holds an active Registered Nurse License issued by the State of Hawaii, volunteers her time with community organizations and is a member of the Big Island Medical Reserve Corps of the Hawaii Department of Health.  Prior to her recent retirement Marvelle gained 26 years of professional experience primarily as a community health nurse working with at risk groups such as developmentally disabled, mentally ill and geriatric patients.  Her duties included patient advocacy by recommending strategies, products and services to provide the best care outcomes. These activities required awareness of medical conditions, cognitive levels, socioeconomic status and the cultural diversity of the recipient client population.


Use of Copyrighted Content from this Website

A primary purpose of our website is to facilitate access and use of information developed by our company for the advancement of science, educational purposes and public use.

Image Policies.  We are aware of interest in the photographs of plants on our website and maintained in our offline collection.  Currently, most of these images are copyrighted by us with all rights reserved. To maximize and facilitate their use by others it is our intent to eventually offer most of these images as “Free Cultural Works” as characterized by Freedom Defined.

This will require selection and application of Creative Commons (CC) licenses approved for “free cultural works” to the individual images.  Most of our free images will be licensed as CC BY-SA and a small number of images with no rights reserved will be marked CC0.

Copyrighted images offered for sale, associated with product development, promotion and our other commercial activities may not be licensed for use by others or will be covered by the more restrictive CC license prohibiting commercial use CC BY-NC. These materials are not be considered “Free Cultural Works”.

We will be adding license information to images currently on the website and many new postings in preparation.  Inserting license markings is a slow process and will be carried out as our limited time permits.  If you would like to obtain rights to use any specific photos before this process is complete please contact Edward Rau via our contact page.

Website constraints restrict the size, format and number of images that we can post on this website.  In many cases, higher resolution and original photos may be available.

Attribution.  Please credit the photographer Edward Rau.  We would appreciate a copy of or link to the publications our images are used in.  Please send these to Edward Rau via our contact page.

Obtaining Additional Rights.  For information about obtaining higher resolution images and permission to use images and our other copyrighted works, or additional rights not already allowed by Creative Commons licenses associated with specific images please contact Edward Rau via our contact page .


Research Nursery Operations

Our research nursery was previously located in Frederick, Maryland.  In October 2011, we began a small field growing trial of hoodia cultivars at our site in Discovery Harbour, near the community of Naʻālehu on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Our Maryland operations were closed in June 2013 and moved to the site in Hawaii.

Our field trials are now largely conducted in collaboration with other entities and volunteer farmers at offsite locations in Hawaii, Arizona and Africa – Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Republic of the Gambia.

Growing Site Conditions.

Unless otherwise indicated, most of the information on the plants presented on this website is from our experience growing the plants at our Hawaii site and successive generations of plants grown here become adapted to local conditions.  As these conditions are primary determinants of performance purchasers of plants and seeds obtained from us and grown under different conditions may experience different outcomes.

Our growing conditions are documented here for reference.  Some of the information and data in this section was obtained and adapted from the Hawai’i Soil Atlas, which is derived and constructed from the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) databases and websites.

Location.  Our facility is located on the lower southeastern slope of Mauna Loa at an elevation of 281.3 meters (923 feet) in the community of Discovery Harbour, between Waiohinu and South Point on Hawaii Island.

Soil Information

Native Local Soils.  The natural soils in our area are young – some of the nearby lava flows occurred as recently as the 1868 eruption of Mauna Loa.  The Hawaiian name of our nearest town, Naʻālehu, refers to a land of volcanic ash and is appropriately named.

At our site the soils are andisols of the Kapulehu Series most commonly found on the coastal slopes of the southern point of Hawai‘i island.  They are thin and consist predominantly of volcanic ash and glassy cinders with numerous olivine basalt stones and jagged ‘a‘a lava rocks over shallow bedrock and lava flows.  The soils are fertile, with ample calcium, magnesium and potassium but low in organic matter, which differs somewhat from the description of this series.  The soil also has very high phosphorus reactivity.  This tends to fix added phosphorus making it unavailable for uptake by plants.  High additions of phosphorus required to compensate for this may upset the phosphorus-iron balance contributing to iron deficiency chlorosis, particularly if lime or other soil amendments are used that may raise the pH.  Soils in this series are slightly acidic to near neutral (pH 6.1 – 6.5).  Liming may be required if the land is extensively farmed.  The land outside the residential areas of Discovery Harbour is mostly used for pasture, macadamia nut and coffee production, and small farms growing a wide variety of crops.

Fill Material.  To level our site and provide sufficient soil for planting we imported fill material consisting of granular black cinders.  This was topped with a soil mixture of cinders, cinder fines and macademia nut shell granules at a ratio of approximately 1:1:1.  The fill materials were derived from local sources and not expected to differ significantly from the native soil type.

In both the native soils and fill materials the greatest challenge for cultivation of plants is to maintain adequate soil moisture.  The surface soils are highly pervious and usually dry out completely in two to three days after rainfall or irrigation.  Shallow ‘a‘a lava bedrock is usually reached at a depth of about 50.  In this region permeability is much slower tending to trap water above the bedrock.  Shallow rooted plants that are not drought tolerant are most difficult to grow under these conditions.  As root systems become established and reach water entrained above bedrock they tend grow well and are be less dependent on irrigation.

Artificial Soil Media.  For most plant production in containers we use mixtures of media similar to the fill and topsoil materials described above and various artificial and organic fertilizers.  Plants in our certified nursery area must be grown in nematode free media meeting the requirements of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA).  Commercial potting soils, perlite, peat moss, coir, dolomite and sand are the predominant ingredients and almost of these must be imported from outside Hawaii.  Most cinders, basalt sand, organic fertilizers etc. and other locally produced soil media and amendments do not meet HDOA requirements for use in certified nursery areas, or USDA requirements for export.  The lack of approved, sterilized growing media made from local soil components impairs our ability to develop cultivars adapted to Hawaiian conditions in our certified nursery area and significantly increases the cost of growing plants for export, which must be grown in certified media if they are shipped to states such as Arizona, California, Texas and Louisiana that have quarantines prohibiting entry of non-certified nursery stock.

Olivine basalt stone from Discovery Harbour, Hawaii

Olivine Basalt
Discovery Harbour, Hawaii
Photo © by Edward Rau
Licensed under CC BY-SA


‘A‘a Lava with Olivine Basalt, Discovery Harbour, Hawaii

‘A‘a Lava with Olivine Basalt
Discovery Harbour, Hawaii
Photo © by Edward Rau
Licensed under CC BY-SA

Climate.  The mean annual rainfall here is 122.0 centimeters(cm) (mean January = 11.8cm; mean July = 8.3cm).  The area is currently experiencing drought conditions with a seasonable total of only 5.8cm of precipitation as of March 23, 2017.  The mean annual temperature is 19.4°C (67°F) (mean January = 17.7°C (63.8°F), mean July = 20.6°C (69.1°F).  Frosts are not encountered and the lowest recorded temperature here was 10°C (50°F).  The area experiences easterly trade winds much of the time and wind sensitive crops are likely to be damaged by without protection.

Atmospheric Conditions.  Our site is affected by deposition of salt from sea spray carried from the nearby shore by trade winds.  We also frequently experience elevated levels of vog, a form of air pollution or “smog” produced by the photochemical reaction of sunlight, oxygen and moisture with invisible sulfur dioxide (SO2) and other gases that have been released into the atmosphere by volcanic eruptions.  A reaction product is sulfate (SO4) aerosol which is visible.

The ongoing eruption of the nearby Kīlauea volcano emits large quantities of sulfur dioxide.  For example, the emission rate on March 23, 2017 reported by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory from the volcano’s summit was between 3,100 and 4,700 metric tons/day and at the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vents on its East Rift Zone about 250 metric tons/day when last measured on February 22, 2017.

Our facility is located about 64 kilometers (40 miles) from the summit of the Kīlauea volcano.  Wind patterns affect the transport of volcanic emissions to our area and levels of vog are forecast by the Vog Measurement and Prediction (VMAP) Project of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  In our area SO2 is expected to be the primary component of vog.   Sulfate aerosol is expected to be the main problem at locations farther from the vent (Kailua Kona and areas farther north and west from us).

Vog poses significant environmental and health risks and can severely damage sensitive crops.  Our area does experience episodic intervals of elevated vog levels but not with the frequency or severity of other nearby communities such as Ocean View.  When the vent of Puʻu ʻŌʻō on the Kīlauea volcano several years ago protea flower farms in the Ocean View area experienced severe damage and some closed permanently.  On our site and adjacent properties protea species grow well with no apparent vog damage.  Plants obtained from us may be expected to have some undetermined degree of vog resistance.  The hoodias, our primary crop do not have foliage so may be less likely to be damaged by vog.  We also used sulfur dioxide as a fumigant on hoodia at our greenhouse facility in Maryland to control mealy bug infestations.  No adverse effects on the hoodia plants were observed.

Native Vegetation.  The South Point area referred to as Ka Lae in the Hawaiian language, and the adjacent bays below our site are generally believed to be the locations where Polynesians from the Marquesas and Tahiti first landed in Hawaii and the first settlements were established.  Before the first human arrivals in Hawaii the Discovery Harbour area consisted of lowland dry forest and scrub land supporting a diverse flora of endemic and indigenous species. The first Polynesian settlers brought with them an array of non-native plants such as coconuts, bananas, bread fruit, shampoo ginger, sugar cane and taro for cultivation as crops.  Some of these “canoe plants” such as candle nut, milo and sugar cane escaped cultivation and became naturalized.  Successive human arrivals have intentionally or accidentally introduced many invasive plant and animal species with devastating effects on native biota.  Many endemic species have now become extinct and most of the diverse flora that existed before human arrivals has been extirpated.

In Discovery Harbour the vegetation in untended areas is now dominated by just three non-native invasive perennial species: Brazilian pepper, locally known as Christmas berry (Shinus terebinthefolius); koa halole (Leucaena leucocephala); and Guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus), formally known as Panicum maximum.  Control and eradication of these species is difficult and labor intensive without use of herbicides.  Christmas berry spreads aggressively, forming dense stands that support few other plant species.  Its roots can extend long distances from the plants and prevent or retard growth of other plants.  Insights on the mechanisms of invasion for this species were recently presented (Dawkins and Esiobu 2016).  For sensitive individuals contact with the plant sap can result in dermatitis and inflammation and skin reactions similar to poison ivy, which is in the same plant family (Anacardiaceae).

Photo of typical non-native vegetation, Discovery Harbour, Hawaii

Typical Non-native Vegetation
Discovery Harbour, Hawaii
Photo © by Edward Rau
Photo use licensed under CC BY-SA

Guinea grass followed with some koa haloe rapidly invades areas of disturbed soils and lands that have been recently cleared.  These invasives tend to dry out and produce high fuel loads for fire.  Burning of Christmas berry releases toxic smoke that can be very irritating to exposed individuals.

Guinea Grass (Megathyrsus maximus) on Cleared Lot at Discovery Harbour, Hawaii

Guinea Grass (Megathyrsus maximus)
Discovery Harbour, Hawaii
Photo © by Edward Rau
Photo use license CC BY-SA

Our nursery is endorsed by the Plant Pono Program and we are actively engaged with local organizations working to control invasive species.


Sustainability of Our Operations

Energy Generation and Conservation.  We maximize use of solar energy for water heating and electricity generation, and use of LCD lighting and energy conserving devices in our operations.  In 2016, we increased our roof top photovoltaic generation capacity to equal or exceed our average power use.  The generation system is grid connected and supplied by power from Hawaiian Electric Company to meet night time power needs.  The company obtains more than 50% of its power from renewable energy sources, primarily solar, geothermal and wind systems.  Our website hosting service is supplied by wind generated electricity.

Endangered and Threatened Species.  We do not collect or accept endangered or threatened plants from wild sources.  Specimen materials from these plants that we supply for educational purposes or other projects are grown in cultivation onsite.

Genetically Modified Organisms.  Used in a general sense the term “genetically modified organism” (abbreviated GMO) can refer to any organism whose genetic material has been modified or altered.  As most commonly used today and this website the term refers more specifically to organisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering (GE) technologies (primarily recombinant DNA and molecular cloning) to transfer genes within and across species boundaries to produce improved or novel organisms.

Sustainable Bioresources does not use genetic engineering technologies to develop new cultivars and we do not knowingly offer or sell plants that are GMOs, or materials derived from GMOs.  We do not use genetic engineering because we have no current applications for the technology, and GMOs may not be acceptable to users of our products.  Our lack of use of GE and GMOs not because we believe organisms developed by genetic engineering present greater risks than organisms developed by conventional breeding methods.

In our view the genetics of virtually all organisms that interact with man eventually become modified because of that interaction.  These modifications may be intentional such as those carried out by conventional plant breeding methods or genetic engineering, or unintended such the development of bacteria with genetics for drug resistance by our unnecessary or improper use of antibiotics.  The risks and benefits of genetic modification come from the traits expressed by the modification, not by the method of modification. There is simply no scientific consensus to support the contention that GMOs pose greater risks than organisms developed by other methods.

Organic Practices and Certification.  A goal of our research program is to develop plant cultivars suitable for organic production and most of the plants we supply are now grown organically.  In some situations, the use of organic fertilizers or pesticides is not feasible, they are not available or prohibitively expensive.  In these limited situations, non-organic materials may be used.

Pesticide Use.  We use minimal amounts of pesticides on the plants we supply and with rare exceptions use only pesticides approved for use on organic crops.  The most commonly used pesticides include alcohol for mealy bug control, neem oil, horticultural sulfur, diatomite and insect soap.

Waste Management.  We endeavor to maximize reuse of nursery containers and soil media and recycle most of the wastes generated by our office operations.  In 2016 we discontinued onsite composting because of space constraints and difficulties in controlling ants infesting the composting units.


Putting Invasive Species to Work

Our malodorous hoodia flowers do attract a lot of flies for pollination.  Jackson, a frequent visitor to our facilities keeps a watchful eye on this situation.  He provides very rapid, pesticide-free control services for flies and a variety of other pests including centipedes.


Jackson's Chameleon (Triceros jacksonii xantholophus) from Discovery Harbour, Hawaii

Jackson’s Chameleon, Male
Triceros jacksonii xantholophus
Discovery Harbour, Hawaii
Photo © by Edward Rau
Licensed under CC BY-SA