Gulch-hopping in Mokule’ia

Approaching Cyaneas

We hiked several gulches in the Mokule’ia forest preserve to check out the native plants in the area. This part of the northern Wai’anaes has some nice native forest that are still fairly species rich. Let’s see how things have changed since the days Hathaway and Degener hiked these areas.

I have to add Wili-Wili (Erythrina sandwicensis) trees again. I had mentioned seeing healthy individuals in Wai’anae Kai. We ran into a bunch of Wili-Wili trees here in the Mokule’ia forest reserve. They were all healthy as well; none showed any signs of the gall wasp. Perhaps the tide really is turning.

I didn’t realize that the pictures I took of this plant all pretty much came out blurry. So, unfortunately this is the best of a bad bunch. I had to put it in anyway because of what it is: It’s a small-leafed variant of Nioi (Eugenia reinwardtiana). The Nioi in the area are all pretty healthy, but there are some signs of the Puccinia rust on some of the leaves.

And here is my favorite group of plants. We past by one of the exclosures for Cyanea superba. We had joined up with the Mokule’ia trail at this point; this is just one of the exclosures that one can find situated right next to the trail. Knowing my love for lobeliads, you can imagine my excitement as I snapped these pictures! It would have been nice to see them in full infloresence; C. superba flowers hang down from a super-long peduncle. It’s just another reason for me to visit them again! Here’s another picture of C. superba, because I can’t take enough:

In a different exclosure was another rare plant: Kaulu (Pteralyxia macrocarpa). It is the last of the natives in the dogbane family (Apocynaceae) that I had not seen. Unlike the other members (Maile, Hao & Holei), Kaulu is much more restricted. Plants in the genus Pteralyxia are only found on the older islands of Kaua’i and O’ahu. P. macrocarpa is only found on O’ahu. Differing from Holei in the last post, Kaulu is pretty distinctive. The leaves are much larger and there is only 1 leaf per node. Luckily, this particular plant had fruit, showing another way to identify it:

All in all, it was a great day of hiking. It was encouraging to see the effort being taken now by all sorts of people and agencies to help keep the amazing diversity of the biota here in the Hawaiian islands thriving.

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