Getting to know your Hawaiian Lobeliads #2: Cyanea leptostegia

Cyanea leptostegia

  • Hawaiian Name: Haha lua
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable
  • Distribution: Kaua’i
  • Date photographed: 9/22/2010
  • Ease of viewing: Very easy
  • *Identification: Form– Palm-like tree 3-14 m tall. Leaves– Dimorphic. Juvenile leaves: irregularly parted or divided, blades 20-70 cm long by 5-12 cm wide; margins minutely callose-denticulate, petioles 0.5-2 cm long. Adult leaves: linear to narrowly oblanceolate; blades 50-100 cm long by 2.5-8.5 cm wide; margins gently undulate & minutely callose-denticulate; sessile. Flower– hypanthium oblong, 15-25 mm long; calyx lobes linear, 30-55 mm long; corolla rose to purple, 45-55 mm long.
  • Phylogenetic comments: Cyanea leptostegia is the tallest of the extant Hawaiian Lobeliads; it can reach heights in excess of 30 ft. 2022 update — C. leptostegia seems to have very close affinities with the pyrularia clade with some admixture from the coriacea clade.
  • My Notes: This Cyanea is found in mesic forests on Kaua’i. It is fairly common near the beginning of the Mohihi-Wai’alae Trail. Getting to that trailhead though isn’t the easiest; you’ll most likely need a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Luckily, there is one particular individual that is very easy to see: It is outplanted on the short nature trail right behind the museum at Koke’e State Park. They even give you a guide that points out where exactly it is at. I’m still used to seeing the different lobeliads as bushes and shrubs, to come across this 15 ft tall tree put a smile on my face.
  • Links: A Monographic study of the Hawaiian species of the tribe Lobelioideae family Campanulaceae, Smithsonian Flora of the Hawaiian Islands,UH Botany, Native Hawaiian Plants- Cyanea
  • Additional Pics:

*From Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i

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