Getting to know your Hawaiian Lobeliads #21: Clermontia parviflora

Clermontia parviflora

  • Conservation Status: Apparently Secure
  • Distribution: Hawaii (Kohala Mts; Windward slopes of Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa)
  • Date photographed: 4/29/2012
  • Ease of viewing: Extremely Easy
  • *Identification: Form– Terrestrial or epiphytic shrub 1-3.5 m tall. Leaves– elliptic or oblanceolate, 6-18 cm long, 1.5-5.5 cm wide; petioles 1.5-5 cm long. Flower– hypanthium turbinate to obovoid, 5-8 mm long, 3-5 mm wide; perianth green, purple, or white externally, white or pale purple within, 15-28 mm long, 3-5 mm wide, tube suberect.
  • Phylogenetic comments: The genus Clermontia has an interesting natural distribution; it becomes more speciose from older to the younger islands. Kauai only has Clermontia faurei, while C. parviflora is one of at least 11 species found on the Big Island.
  • My notes: This was the first lobeliad that I encountered on the Big Island. It seems like a much smaller and more scandent plant overall than the Clermontia spp. I’m used to on Oahu. This is by far the most easily accessible native lobeliad that I’ve come across: just drive up to the Thurston lava tube and there is a nice healthy population right at either entrance. No 4 hour hike to a summit needed!
  • Links: Smithsonian Flora of the Hawaiian Islands, UH Botany, Native Hawaiian Plants- Clermontia

*From Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i

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