Getting to know your Hawaiian Lobeliads #29: Cyanea grimesiana

Cyanea grimesiana

Cyanea grimesiana ssp. grimesiana

  • Hawaiian Name: Kuenui?
  • Conservation Status: Endangered
  • Distribution: O’ahu (Mt. Ka’ala, Ko’olau mountains), Moloka’i
  • Date photographed: 2/26/2014
  • Ease of viewing: outplanted
  • *Identification: Form– Sparingly branched or unbranched shrubs 1-3.2 m tall, muricate. Leaves– pinnately divided, blades 2758 cm long, 14-32 cm wide (across segments), segments 912 per side, petioles 8-32 cm long, muricate. Flower– calyx lobes ovate to lanceolate, 10-44 mm long, 4-14 mm wide, overlapping at the base; corolla greenish to yellowish-white, often suffused or striped with magenta, 55-80 mm long, 5-10 mm wide
  • Phylogenetic comments: The Cyanea grimesiana species complex has been subdivided into the following taxa: C. grimesiana ssp. grimesiana, C. cylindrocalyx, C munroi, C. magnicalyx, C. mauiensis, and C. grimesiana ssp. obatae.
  • My notes: The plight of this taxa in the Ko’olau mountains is simultaneously sad and hopeful. One last dying individual was discovered around 2004. It had very few leaves left. The prospect for fruit were slim. Tissue cultures of the lone individual were taken and plants were able to be fitfully grown in micro-propagation. In the intervening time, the original plant in the wild died. The healthiest of the propagated materials were eventually selected for outplanting. Long story short, this taxa came within a hairsbreadth of being extirpated in the Ko’olau mtns. While there is still a chance that unknown individuals are still out there, we are very lucky to still have this plant around.
  • Links: Cyanea grimesiana ssp. grimesiana 5-year review (pdf), Smithsonian Flora of the Hawaiian Islands, UH Botany, Native Hawaiian Plants- Cyanea

*From Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i

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