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: Clermontia kakeana is part of the group of Clermontias where the calyces are roughly the same size as the corollas, making it look like it has a flower inside of another flower. Note the number of petals above versus the Delissea flower in the teaser.
  • 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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