More Southern Koolau Goodies



Finally, a proper hiking post. I’d rather not turn this place into just a quarterly report. Anyway, I was able to slip away for an all day hike above Honolulu. And once again, the bounty of the mountains never ceases to amaze me…

Cyrtandra gracilis


Let’s start out with the rarest of the rare. Unexpectedly, we came across a Cyrtandra gracilis. If you remember, this was a species that wasn’t seen for a hundred years until its rediscovery 10 years ago. The known population is still very small and from only one location, so every new individual found aids the survival of the species. This specimen was in flower too, so we were able to see the super long calyx on this species.

Cyrtandra flower




Auntie Charlotte, this is for you! It is just coincidence, but it seems like more often than not we come across pockets of rare things. Here growing epiphytically a few feet away from the  C. gracilis was a Peahi (Microsorum spectrum). This is not a common sight on Oahu so we felt especially lucky to come across this.

Polycias gymnocarpa


Let’s kill 2 birds with one stone here. This tree that I’ve never really id’ed before is Polyscias gymnocarpa. The leaves tend to be a different shade of green from the more common P. oahuensis. The inflorescence also tends to have a more lateral aspect. Of course, the flowers themselves are much different, but I wasn’t able to get close enough to a bunch to see for myself.

The other bird is the name. If the genus Polyscias seems unfamiliar, it is because until very recently these plants were in the genus Tetraplasandra. However studies (Lowry, 2010) have shown that these plants are nested deeply within Polyscias sensu lato, hence the nomenclature change.

Cyanea koolauensis


Lobeliads! We also came across several healthy Cyanea koolauensis. This species has been dwindling along the trails so it was a relief to find a fairly healthy population. There were even keiki!

koolauensis seedlings


Speaking of lobeliad keiki, we found some more further on our hike that we weren’t quite sure what they were.

Lobeliad seedling


Maybe it is just a hairy Cyanea angustifolia seedling. For now, I’ll just pretend it’s a Delissea lacinata that hasn’t been seen since Hillebrand reported them. I can still dream impossible dreams too.

Noni kuahiwi


Let’s wrap up this post with another of those rarest of the rare. This ain’t no Bobea. This species, super rare in the Southern Ko’olaus is Noni Kuahiwi. It is similar to the common Noni (Morinda citrifolia) so useful in many home remedies. For a long time it was in the same genus (as Morinda trimera). But I just checked and apparently it too has gone under nomenclature revisions: it is now known as Gynochthodes trimera. So thanks to the curators of the Hawaiian Flora website for the new information. It isn’t just the trails that I find wonderful surprises!


Lowry, P.P, II, & Plunket, G.M., 2010 Recircumscription of Polyscias (Arialaceae) to include six related genera, with a new infrageneric classification and synopsis of speciesPlant Div Evol, Vol. 128/1-2, 55-84


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