Getting to know your Hawaiian Lobeliads #17: Cyanea pohaku

Cyanea pohaku

  • Conservation Status: Extinct
  • Distribution: East Maui (Pu’unianiau)
  • Date photographed: October 11, 1910? (J.F. Rock)
  • *Identification: Form– Sparingly branched trees 6-7 m tall. Leaves– oblanceolate; blades 16-30 cm long by 1.5-4 cm wide; margins callose-crenulate; winged petioles 0.8-2 cm long. Flower– hypanthium obconical, 12-17 mm long; calyx lobes narrowly triangular, 4-7 mm long, 1-2 mm wide; corolla greenish-white, 30-45 mm long, 5-7 mm wide
  • Phylogenetic comments: Originally described by Rock as Clermontia haleakalensis,  it was later moved (Lammers, 1988) to Cyanea bearing the new name Cyanea pohaku.
  • My notes: How lucky are we that the great Joseph Rock was also an excellent photographer? One of the absolute strangest of the Hawaiian Lobeliads could have been lost forever in time without a trace; Rock was the only scientist to ever describe this species before its entire habitat was lost. Take a close look at the picture, C. pohaku has a fairly stout trunk, in the lower left of the photo is a hat to give some scale. It looks to be a 1-2 ft. girth at the base. Weird. C. pohaku was also known from one of the highest elevation ranges for Hawaiian Lobeliads at around 7,000 ft. Such a shame that it’s gone. At least we have a small set of photos so we know exactly what this long gone lobeliad looked like.
  • Links: A Monographic study of the Hawaiian species of the tribe Lobelioideae family Campanulaceae, The Indigenous Trees of the Hawaiian Islands
  • Additional Photos:

*From Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i

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