Adventures over the Misty Mountains

Tetraplasandra in the clouds

Now I understand, Frodo. No wonder your Fellowship would rather risk the Mines of Moria than the extreme weather over the Misty Mountains. This prolonged stretch of heavy rain and thunderstorms has curtailed many a hiking excursion, but this weekend we decided to chance it anyway and hike to the misty summit of Konahuanui and check out the plant life. Will songs be sung throughout Middle-Earth about our adventures? Let’s find out…

The neat thing about hiking to the summit of Konahuanui is that you can start from just about any trailhead in the Honolulu Mauka system and eventually reach it. Everything that Rises must Converge, eh? I’ll bet Flannery O’Connor didn’t have this in mind. We ended up taking a long way, hiking from the popular Manoa Falls trail, contouring up Aihualama trail and then onto the summit. I’d say it took us about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Of course we had to check on an old friend. This is the Cyanea koolauensis I featured so many months ago. It looked like someone cut back the uluhe to give it some room. I was hoping to catch it in bloom but I will have to wait: the plant was just starting to send out its infloresence.

Here’s a picture of the lovely native mint Phyllostegia grandiflora in flower. This species is quite common around the summit of Konahuanui.

And here’s the opposite. This very rare plant is Anini (Eurya sandwicensis), the only native member of Theaceae or the Tea Family. It almost looks like an over-sized Ohelo.

This cute little guy is Kolea lau li’i (Myrsine sandwicensis). It has super tiny leaves hence the name. Unfortunately, its growing right into the trail at a very slippery spot. Hikers, watch our for this cool native!

We also came across two large specimens of Ohe’ (Tetraplasandra sp.) I’m not sure if it’s T. oahuensis or T. gymnocarpa. It had flowers but none were open. That would have been the easy way to tell the difference: T. gymnocarpa has what appear to be full superior ovaries. Here are some more shots of the plant:

I’ll post these into the Hawaii Plant ID group on Flickr and see if anyone has an answer.

We were also coming across a fair number of Clermontia oblongifolia seedlings. It was nice to see, but most were growing in precarious spots in the gulch bottoms. One bad rain could wipe out a large number.

Like any good quest, we were searching for something in specific. And, after of few hours of hiking, getting completely soaked to the bone by the rain and foliage in the process, we came across the very plants we were looking for. It’s Cyanea humboldtiana! It was a small population of about 5 plants. Unfortunately, like the C. oblongifolia, 4 of these guys were also growing dangerously on the stream bank.

One of the C. humboldtiana was getting ready to bloom. Here you can see the growing peduncle, which on this species can get fairly long. Perhaps later I can catch this in full infloresence too!

Ok, so there were no goblins or Balrogs. No epic swordfights. But surely, checking on these rare natives from Konahuanui during inclement weather would be worth a ballad or two, right Elrond? At the very least, I know Treebeard would be appreciative.

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One Response to Adventures over the Misty Mountains

  1. XJ says:

    The T. gymnocarpa’s leaves have a pretty distinctive gray coloration (I think it’s more blue-green) while T. oahuensis doesn’t. The first shot is pretty cloudy so it’s pretty hard to tell but it might be gymnocarpa. The others look like oahuensis. My two pennies.

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