Alani (Melicope quadrangularis)

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Melicope quadrangularis

ListedFebruary 25, 1994
FamilyRutaceae (Citrus)
DescriptionShrub or small tree with hairless branches; thin, leathery, elliptical leaves; and flowers that grow singly or in clusters of two.
HabitatDiverse lowland forest that ranges from mesic to wet conditions.
ThreatsOvercollecting, limited numbers.


This alani (Melicope quadrangularis ) is a shrub or small tree in the citrus family whose young branches are generally covered with fine yellow fuzz but become hairless with age. The oppositely arranged leaves are thin, leathery, elliptical, 3.5-6 in (8.9-15.2 cm) long, and 2-3 in (5.1-7.6 cm) wide. The upper leaf surface is hairless and the lower surface is sparsely hairy, especially along the veins. Flowers are solitary or in clusters of two. The specific floral details are not known.

The fruits are somewhat cube-shaped, flattened capsules about 0.5 in (1.3 cm) long and about 0.8 in (2 cm) wide with a conspicuous central depression at the top. The capsules are four-lobed and completely fused. The exocarp is sparsely hairy and the endocarp is hairless.

This species differs from others in the genus by having oppositely arranged leaves, only one or two flowers per cluster, cube-shaped capsules with fused lobes, and a deep central depression at the top of the fruit.


The 13 known M. quadrangularis plants grow in a diverse lowland forest that ranges from mesic to wet conditions. Associated vegetation includes 'ohi'a, opuhe, uluhe, kanawao, ha'iwale, other Meli-cope species, ferns, and mosses.


M. quadrangularis is known from the type locality in the Wahiawa Bog region of Kauai. One adult plant and two seedlings were discovered in this area in 1991 on an east-facing slope of Wahiawa Ridge at a 2,800 ft (853 m) elevation on privately owned land. Subsequent exploration has resulted in the discovery of 13 individuals.


The existence of only 13 known plants of this species causes it to be threatened by overcollecting for scientific purposes, stochastic extinction, and reduced reproductive vigor. The alien strawberry guava grows in the area and is also a potential threat.

Conservation and Recovery

The recovery of this and most other Hawaiian species depends on how well management practices can be implemented. The habitat of this and other Hawaiian species has undergone extreme alteration because of past and present land management practices, including the deliberate introduction of alien animals and plants and increased agricultural and recreational development. To understand the recovery problems facing this species, it is necessary to understand the long-term causes of habitat destruction.


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.