Alani (Melicope pallida)
|Listed||February 25, 1994|
|Description||Medium-sized tree with 1) grayish-white hairs, 2) black, resinous new growth, and 3) pale yellowish-green flowers clustered in groups of three.|
|Habitat||Steep rock faces in drier regions of lowland mesic forests.|
|Threats||Feral animals, competition from alien plants, insects, fire, limited numbers.|
This alani (Melicope pallida ) is a 20-33-ft-tall (6-10-m-tall) tree in the citrus family with grayish-white hairs and black, resinous new growth. The leaves, 2.4-8.3 in (6.1-21.1 cm) long and 1-3.1 in (2.5-7.9 cm) wide, are grouped in threes, with each leaf loosely folded. Fifteen to 35 pale yellowish-green flowers are clustered in groups of three along a fuzzy white stalk up to 2.4 in (6.1 cm) long. The petals are usually lance shaped and measure 0.1-0.2 in (2.5-5.1 mm) long. Fruits contain two shiny black seeds about 0.1 in (2.5 mm) long in each of the usually four distinct carpels. This specimen differs from other members of the genus by the following combination of characteristics: resinous new growth, leaves folded and in clusters of three, and fruits with separate carpels.
M. pallida usually grows on steep rock faces in drier regions of lowland mesic forests at elevations of 1,600-3,000 ft (488-914 m) and above. Associated plants include Abutilon sandwicense, Alyxia oliviformis (maile), Dryopteris sp., 'ohi'a, mamaki, lonomea, 'ohe, and mana.
M. pallida was known historically from the Waianae Mountains on Oahu, from the base of Mount Kaala and near Palikea within the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii's privately owned Honouliuli Preserve, and from Hanapepe on Kauai. The population near Palikea was last visited in 1960 and M. pallida is now considered extinct on Oahu. Currently known from only six populations on Kauai, M. pallida has 100 individuals at Kalalau Valley Rim, 20 at Honopu Rim, 10 at Koaie Stream in Waimea Canyon, one at Limahuli Valley, 20 at Pohakuao Valley, and six at Awaawapuhi Valley.
The major threats to M. pallida are habitat destruction by feral animals and competition with alien plant species. M. pallida habitat on Kauai is being destroyed by feral goats and pigs. In addition, weeds like daisy fleabane and prickly Florida blackberry are aggressive competitors that can crowd out native Hawaiian plants. The Kauai populations of M. pallida also face strong competition from introduced plants, especially Koster's curse and Australian red cedar. A potential threat is the black twig borer, which is known to occur in areas where this species grows and to feed on members of the genus Melicope. Additional threats are fire and stochastic extinction or reduced reproductive vigor due to the small number of existing individuals.
Conservation and Recovery
The National Tropical Botanical Garden has seeds in storage but has not successfully propagated this species.
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. 25 February 1994. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of Endangered or Threatened Status for 24 Plants from the Island of Kauai, HI." Federal Register 59 (38): 9304-9329.