Getting to know your Hawaiian Lobeliads #36: Cyanea membrenacea

Cyanea membrenacea

  • Conservation status: Critically Endangered
  • Distribution: O’ahu (Wai’anae Mountains)
  • Date photographed: 8/20/2022
  • *Identification: Form– Sparingly branched shrubs 2-4m tall Leaves– oblanceolate to oblong, blades 18-32 cm long, 3-9 cm wide. Flower– calyx lobes dentiform, 0.5-1 mm long; corolla white, sometimes slightly tinged pale purplish, 30-40 mm long, 3-4 mm wide, tube suberect to gently curved
  • Phylogenetic comments: Let’s take a bit of a deeper dive into the plants currently circumscribed in Cyanea and how this relates to the placement of C. membrenacea. 2022 update — The purple fruited Cyanea spp have been divided into 4 separate clades with C. membrenacea nesting within the angustifolia clade. The 4 clades themselves seem to have good support to be actually sister to the Clermontia clade and combined are in turn sister to the orange fruited Cyanea spp. Which would technically mean they would need a new name. But of course that highlights the difference between phylogeny (the evolutionary relationships) and the phylogenetic nomenclature (the naming of said relationships)
  • My notes: I finally caught this fine specimen in full inflorescence! Though to be fair, it’s really just me working on Pu’u ‘Ohi’a and not hiking as much anymore (It maybe flowering regularly and I’m too lazy to see it 😛 ). However seeing this guy was a real treat. Hiking the southern Wai’anae Mts is still a very strange experience for me; I’m still not use to seeing certain taxa like Cyanea is drier environments. But the lighter water regimen wasn’t stopping this specimen: it was much taller than me with a significant trunk.
  • Additional Photos:

*From Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i

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