Alani (Melicope lydgatei)

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Melicope lydgatei

ListedMarch 28, 1994
FamilyRutaceae (Citrus)
DescriptionSmall shrub with glossy, papery, lance-shaped leaves and aromatic greenish-white flowers that arise singly or in clusters of two or three.
HabitatOpen ridges in mesic forests and occasionally in wet forests.
ThreatsStochastic extinction due to limited numbers.


This alani (Melicope [=Pelea ] lydgatei ) is a small shrub in the citrus family with leaves arranged oppositely or in threes. The glossy and papery leaves, 1.6-5.1 in (4.1-13 cm) long and 0.6-2.6 in (1.5-6.6 cm) wide, vary from lance-shaped to oblong. Flowers are usually functionally unisexual, with both uni-sexual and bisexual flowers growing on the same plant. Its aromatic, greenish-white flowers are about 0.2-0.3 in (5.1-7.6 mm) long and arise singly or in clusters of two or three. The four-lobed capsules have sections fused for one-fourth to one-third their length. These capsules are between 0.6-0.9 in (1.5-2.3 cm) wide and contain one or two glossy black seeds about 0.2 in (5.1 mm) long in each section. Both the exocarp and endocarp (outermost and innermost layers of the fruit wall) are hairless. M. lydgatei is distinguished from others in its genus by the leaf arrangement (opposite or in groups of three), the amount of fusion of the fruit sections, and the hairless exocarp and endocarp. This species has been observed in flower in May and in fruit from June to July.


M. lydgatei typically grows in association with koa, 'ohi'a, uluhe, kopiko, and 'akakea lau nui on open ridges in mesic forests and occasionally in wet forests at elevations of 1,350-1,800 ft (412-549 m).


M. lydgatei was historically known throughout the Koolau Mountains of Oahu from Hauula to Kahana, from Kipapa Gulch to Waimano, and from Kalihi Valley to Wailupe Valley.

Fewer than 45 individuals in three populations distributed over a 7.5-mi (12-km) distance remained in 1998. Forty plants occurred along the Peahinaia Trail, one plant along the Poamoho Trail within the Kawailoa Training Area, and one plant along Manana Trail on state land in the Ewa Forest Reserve.


The primary threats to M. lydgatei are 1) competition from aggressive alien plants like strawberry guava and Koster's curse, 2) feral pigs, and 3) risk of extinction due to random natural events or reduced reproductive vigor because of the few individuals remaining and their restricted distribution. Predation from the black twig borer is potentially another threat.

Conservation and Recovery

The U. S. Army has constructed a small enclosure around one individual within the Peahinaia Trail population that protects it from ungulate damage.

The Lyon Arboretum is propagating M. lydgatei.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
Eastside Federal Complex 911 N.E. 11th Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97232-4181
Telephone: (503) 231-6121

Pacific Remote Islands Ecological Services Field
300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 3-122
P.O. Box 50088
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850
Telephone: (808) 541-1201
Fax: (808) 541-1216


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 28 March 1994. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Endangered Status for 11 Plant Species from the Koolau Mountain Range, Island of Oahu, HI." Federal Register 59:14482-14492.