The plant, believed to have become extinct in the wild, was found and reproduced

Image of the Delissea argutidentata plant courtesy of Kamehameha Schools

(Bevin) — Three organizations on Monday announced the successful discovery and spread of a Hawaiian plant believed to be extinct in the wild.

small population Delissea argutidentata She was found in early March 2021 on the Kamehameha school grounds “in a remote part of Mauka Kona on the island of Hawaii”. Officials say the exact location is being kept secret to protect the plant.

exposed seeds Delissea argutidentata Successfully propagated by the Rare Volcanic Plants Facility, about 30 kiki have been planted.

From a joint Kamehameha/Hawaii DLNR/Three Mountain Alliance press release:

Kamehameha Schools (KS), the Hawaii Department of Lands and Natural Resources (DLNR), and Three Mountain Alliance (TMA) today announced the discovery of a small number of residents. Delissea argutidentataA plant believed to have become extinct in the wild.

The three organizations succeeded in planting 30 kiki plants published by the Rare Volcanic Plants Facility from seeds retrieved from a small batch of this newly discovered plant that was discovered in early March 2021 by a TMA employee. The plant was discovered in the crater of a volcano on Kansas land in a remote area of ​​Ma Oka Kona on the island of Hawaii. The exact location is kept secret to protect the plant.

“The Kamehameha schools have been successful in caring for local ecosystems as a whole, but what is really exciting is that this is the first step towards a much greater focus on the recovery of rare species,” said Amber Nāmaka Whitehead, Senior Director of Natural Resources at KS. “We need both – healthy indigenous ecosystems and each of our rare species. They are so important to our Hawaiian cultural identity and our health and well-being as a people.”

Image copyright Kamehameha Schools

The TMA employee who found the plant was collecting seeds from other plants for use in nearby recovery areas. The population was found growing on a dead mane stem adjacent to an old alignment, and appears to consist of three separate plants. Inside the enclosure, the remains of a larger individual plant were visible. This discovery is significant because plant species were previously considered extinct. Over the past year, employees of the three organizations have taken action to protect small groups of plants and preserve their genes.

“Rediscover Delicia “An important message of hope,” TMA coordinator Colin Cole said. “In Hawaii, there is often a lot of focus on loss — the loss of species, of forests, of sacred places — and maybe that’s human nature but Delicia It always reminds us of nurturing and making room for hope and discovery. This was an inspiring event which means we can now reintroduce this plant in large numbers to its previous range, reminding us to remain optimistic and vigilant.”

Delissea argutidentata This area was last seen in the early 1970s inside three small fenced enclosures by a former tenant. One plant collected from the area in 1971 indicates that there are only three plants left, the tops of all plants have been damaged – most likely by livestock – and there has been no regeneration, likely due to the density of the grass. Forward-thinking and the installation of a protective fence are key features of species continuity in an area that has been significantly modified due to past pastoral use.

In 1992, a single individual plant was discovered in Puʻu Waʻawaʻa, but that known wild plant died in 2002. Until the recent discovery, there were no known wild plants and the species was considered extinct in the wild, although seeds were collected from the individual Puʻu Waʻawaʻa individual and many remain. From keiki transplant it is alive today.

“The fact that it was discovered here, brings it back to this place,” said Joshua VanDeMark, DLNR Coordinator for the Prevention of Plant Extinction Program (PEPP). “Reintroducing a rare species like this is critical because the habitat is what will allow it to persist into the future.”

Delissea argutidentata It has a long, unbranched palm-like stem topped by a dense group of rounded leaves. It can grow up to 35 feet in length, which is much taller than any other species in the lobelia family. It was previously found growing abundantly under the shade of giant koa trees and on the bottoms and slopes of ancient volcanic craters.

Among the 16 recognized species Delicia, 14 are extinct and the remaining two are threatened with extinction. While Hawaii’s name is not registered for Delissea argutidentataThey are very similar to plants in the related genus syanya, and may be known by the same name, Hāhā; Or, given its extremely long and uncharacteristic shape, one could descriptively call this plant hāhā kiʻekiʻe (long haha).

Together with staff from the TMA and the DLNR Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), KS staff visited the area in March 2021, installed temporary fencing around the residents, and collected eight ripe fruits. Some of the fruit was sent to the Lyon Arboretum for storage while others were taken to the Volcano Rare Plant for breeding.

In February 2022, KS staff reconsidered the population and collected 12 fruits from the two largest plants. This fruit was sent to Lyon Arboretum for storage. The staff also noticed two small wild Delissea argutidentata The seedlings were installed inside the enclosure in March 2021.

We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without these partnerships. For Kamehameha schools and other private landowners, stewardship of natural resources is something you can’t do in one place, it’s something that happens on a landscape scale. We count on partnerships with a diverse group of people to help us achieve this vision of the healthy population, said Whitehead, a 1997 graduate of Kamehameha Schools in Kapalama.

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