Getting to know your Hawaiian Lobeliads #4: Clermontia kakeana

Clermontia kakeana

  • Hawaiian Name: Oha wai
  • Conservation Status: Apparently Secure
  • Distribution: O’ahu, Moloka’i, Mau’i
  • Date photographed: 6/20/2010
  • Ease of viewing: Easy
  • *Identification: Form– Terrestrial or epiphytic shrub or tree 1-6 m tall. Leaves-elliptic, oblanceolate, or narrowly obovate; blades 12-26 cm long by 3.5-9.8 cm wide; margins callose-crenulate; petioles 2-7 cm long. Flower– hypanthium hemispherical to obovoid, perinath pale green externally, greenish-white to white internally, 45-55 mm long.
  • Phylogenetic comments: 2022 update Clermontia kakeana does not seem to be closely related to the other 2 Clermontia spp found on O’ahu. Rather it forms a monophyletic clade with the rest of the Big Island Clermontia.
  • My notes: I can’t help but beam with pride when talking about this plant. It is becoming more and more rare on O’ahu. On many of the trails where it was formerly common, C. kakeana has vanished in the last couple years. Except on the Manoa Cliff Trail in our restoration area. In our enclosure, I’d say we might be over 100 individuals by now, with some of the earliest plantings already reproducing. I might be biased, but this is probably the easiest of the native lobeliads to see on O’ahu.
  • Links: Smithsonian Flora of the Hawaiian islands, UH Botany, Native Hawaiian Plants- Clermontia
  • Additional pics:

*From Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i

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