The Wonder of Discovery: # 34 Cyanea konahuanuiensis

Cyanea flower

So I changed up the format for my next post in the lobelia series. For how can it be normal; Cyanea konahuanuiensis is a species brand new to science that I helped describe!

I’m not going to rehash everything, that is what the paper is for. But I’ve always had this romantic image of what discovering a new species would be like. That of the pith-helmeted naturalist with a well-waxed mustache hacking his way through malaria infested swamps. Imagine the naturalist pushes aside a man-sized frond to encounter a quiet glade. His heart skips a beat. In the center of this opening, with a solitary beam of dappled sunlight shining on it, is some unknown wonder of nature. (In my daydream it’s a giant ground sloth!) Our intrepid naturalist feels vindicated and cannot wait to tell his benefactors back home what he has discovered.

Real scientific discovery is pretty far from that fiction. For one, I first met C. konahuanuiensis on one of the soggiest, chilliest hikes I had ever been on! And two, scientific discovery is more than just saying “Hmm, I think you’re something new!”, posting a picture on the interwebs, and have everyone congratulating you on a job well done. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the start of a 2+ year process to formally describe the species.

But I must say, I feel pretty proud of my small part in all of this. I’d imagine it is more so for the rest of the team who really put the effort behind all of i: Maggie, Adam, Mashuri & Tobias. I tip my cap to you folks.

If there is one thing that people take from this, it is the importance of biological surveying here in Hawai’i. Species have been discovered and more commonly rediscovered here with surprising regularity. With all the detrimental environmental impacts occurring in Hawai’i, some of these plants could go extinct before we even knew they were there.

Having gotten the maudlin issues out of the way, without further ado… Haha mili’ohu! (Rather appropriate that I just turned 34 last week and this is the 34th lobeliad in the series!)

Haha mili'ohu

Cyanea konahuanuiensis

  • Hawaiian Name: Haha mili’ohu
  • Conservation status: —
  • Distribution: O’ahu
  • Date photographed: 7/6/2013
  • Ease of viewing: Difficult
  • Identification: Form– Unarmed shrubs 57–69 cm high, with 1–6 stems originating at the base Leaves– blades elliptic to oblong, 10-16 cm wide, 20-33 cm long, petioles 2-4.2 cm long Flower– calyx lobes linear to linear-oblong 5-7 mm wide, 16-18 mm long; corolla dark purple, 12-13 mm wide, 86-99 mm long, externally densely pubescent
  • Phylogenetic comments: Cyanea konahuanuiensis is a newly described species that shares the staminal column adnation to the corolla with other members of the Rollandia radiation within the Acuminata clade. But, of course, more genetic work needs to be done. 2022 update — Interestingly, C. konahuanuiensis doesn’t nest deeply within the rest of the core rollandia clade. Rather it seems to be sister to C. st-johnii and both originate from another possible hybridization event between rollandia and grimesiana.
  • Links: Sporck-Koehler MJ, Koehler TB, Marquez SN, Waite M, Williams AM (2015) A new species of Cyanea (Campanulaceae, Lobelioideae), from the Ko‘olau Mountains of O‘ahu, Hawaiian Islands. PhytoKeys 46: 45-60.doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.46.8694
  • Additional Photos:

haha mili'ohu 2


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2 Responses to The Wonder of Discovery: # 34 Cyanea konahuanuiensis

  1. Charlotte Yamane says:

    Congratulations ! WOW !

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