Getting to know your Hawaiian Lobeliads #15: Brighamia insignis

Brighamia insignis

  • Hawaiian Name: Alula
  • Conservation Status: Endangered
  • Distribution: Kaua’i (Napali Coast)
  • Date photographed: 9/30/2011
  • Ease of viewing: Cultivated
  • *Identification: Form– Unbranched stem succulents 1-5 m tall; stems stout, fleshy, thickened toward base. Leaves– Leaves obovate, arranged in a dense apical rosette; 12-20 cm long, 6.5-11 cm wide; sessile to subsessile. Flower– salverform; hypanthium 10-12 mm long, 4.5-7 mm wide; calyx lobes deltate to ovate, 0.2-1 mm long; corolla yellow, tube 7-14 cm long, 0.3-0.4 cm wide, lobes elliptic, 1.3-2.2 cm long, 0.7-1.1 cm wide
  • Phylogenetic comments: The 2 Brighamia species have traits unique among Hawaiian Lobeliads; for a long time they were thought to be a separate colonization. However, studies have shown the genus to be nested normally within the Hawaiian Lobeliad clade; Brighamia and Delissea form a subclade within the group.
  • My notes: The wild populations of B. insignis are highly endangered. Problems such has ungulate browsing, over collection, landslides and hurricanes have reduced the wild populations down to perhaps 1 in the wild. B. insignis does well in cultivation. The individual above is one such cultivated plant.
  • Links: Brighamia insignis SGCN (pdf), Smithsonian Flora of the Hawaiian Islands, UH Botany, Native Hawaiian Plants- Brighamia, Brighamia insignis 5- year review (pdf)
*From Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i
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