We went on a hike to check out the plant life of Kuli’ou’ou Valley. It was impressive to see the diversity still left in such a commonly hiked area.
Kuli’ou’ou is found way on the southeastern side of the Ko’olau range. In this area, the leeward ridgelines aren’t as long. While it makes for a quicker route to the summit (Once you actually gain the ridgeline), it interests me because it seems as if the different types of habitats get more compressed.
So, what’s the very first native plant that we saw? There are a couple usual suspects in this part of the Ko’olau mountains but I was a little surprised what we came across first.
It was an ‘ala’ala wai nui (Peperomia blanda). Granted, this was just our sighting (there could have been other plants we missed) but it was nice to see P. blanda surviving in highly degraded habitat.
And, naturally just beyond the Peperomia was that ultimate survivor in this part of the island: ‘ulei (Osteomeles anthyllidifolia).
So far, it is doing so well that it can still be a dominant element of the ground cover even in highly invaded dry forests.
Another welcomed sight early on was these two plants:
Here, an ‘awikiwiki (Canavalia galeata) was growing happily on a pukiawe (Leptecophylla tameiameiae). Many Fabaceae vines has these tri-foliate compound leaves, but luckily the C. galeata was in flower, making identification easier.
The prettiest part of the trail to me was this area. Just past some ironwood and strawberry guava, we entered a fairly intact lama (Diospyros sandwicensis) forest. Sure, there was some christmas berry and guava invading it, but from canopy to ground many elements were still native.
With so much lama around, we were hoping to spot that common parasite of lama trees. And sure enough in a few spots we came across some hulumoa (Korthalsella remyana). There are several species of native mistletoes with each being found on specific tree species.
We were happy to come across this fern in the understory of the lama forest. Asplenium caudatum isn’t a fern that you come across frequently so it was really nice to see. If the name doesn’t sound familiar to you it is because it was recently changed. It used to be known under the more colorful name Asplenium horridum.
We left the lama forest and quickly moved into the mesic-wet forest. It was also interesting to me because this part of the forest was close to the summit.
Peeking out through the maua (Xylosma hawaiiense) was this handsome haha (Cyanea angustifolia). There was a good population in the area, with several large individuals.
As we swiftly transitioned to the windswept summit community, we came across these loulu. These are not the common Pritchardia martii, these are P. bakeri. Pritchardia bakeri has an oddly disjointed range. They are found in the northern Ko’olau mountains and here in the far southest.
I’ll finish this post with this anecdote. We’re at the summit admiring some nice Clermontia oblongifolia when Joel starts staring intently at a distant ridge.
“Is that a Cyanea?” he remarks. I stare at the ridge, trying to see what he sees to no avail. He pulls out his binoculars.
Meanwhile, we head over to get a better view. And sure enough…
… Cyanea calycina. Spotted from a couple hundred feet away. The legend continues…