Haha (Cyanea platyphylla)

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Cyanea platyphylla

ListedOctober 10, 1996
FamilyCampanulaceae (Bellflower)
DescriptionUnbranched palm-like shrub, covered with short, sharp, pale spines.
HabitatLowland and montane wet forests.
ThreatsPigs, habitat-modifying introduced plant taxa, rats, and volcanic activity.


Cyanea platyphylla, of the bellflower family, is an unbranched palm-like shrub 3-10 ft (0.9-3 m) tall with stems that are covered with short, sharp, pale spines on the upper portions, especially as juveniles. This species has different leaves in the juvenile and adult plants. The juvenile leaves are 4.1-10 in (10.4-25.4 cm) long and 1.6-3 in (4-7.6 cm) wide, with prickles on leaves and stalks. Adult leaves are 13-34 in (33-86.4 cm) long and 2.8-8.7 in (7.1-22.1 cm) wide, and are only sparsely prickled.

Six to 25 flowers are clustered on the end of a main stalk 8-35 in (20.3-89 cm) long, and each flower has a stalk 0.4-1 in (1-2.5 cm) long. The hypanthium is topped by five small, triangular calyx lobes. Petals, which are white or yellowish white with magenta stripes, are fused into a curved tube with five spreading lobes. The corolla is 1.7-2.1 in (4.3-5.3 cm) long and 0.2 to 0.4 in (0.5-1 cm) wide.

Berries are pale orange, 0.3-0.4 in (0.74-1 cm) long, and 0.2-0.3 in (0.5-0.74 cm) wide. The species differs from others in this endemic Hawaiian genus by its juvenile and adult leaves, precocious flowering, and smaller flowers.

Asa Gray (1861) named Delissea platyphylla from a specimen collected by Horace Mann and W.T. Brigham in the Puna District of the island of Hawaii. Wilhelm Hillebrand (1888) transferred the species to Cyanea, creating C. platyphylla. Harold St. John, believing there to be no generic distinction between Cyanea and Delissea, transferred the species back to the genus Delissea, the older of the two generic names. The current treatment of the family, however, maintains the separation of the two genera. The following taxa have been synonymized with C. platyphylla : C. bryanii, C. crispohirta, C. fernaldii, C. nolimetangere, C. pulchra, and C. rollandioides. However, some field biologists argue that C. fernaldii, represented by the Laupahoehoe populations, is a distinct entity that should be resurrected as a separate species.


C. platyphylla is typically found in Metrosideros polymorpha ('ohi'a)-Acacia koa (koa) Lowland and Montane Wet Forests at elevations between 390 and 3,000 ft (119 and 914 m). Associated taxa include Cibotium sp. (hapu'u), Athyrium sandwichianum (ho'i'o), Antidesma sp. (hame), Clermontia spp. ('oha wai), Hedyotis sp. (pilo), and Cyrtandra spp. (ha'iwale).


C. platyphylla was historically known from the Kohala Mountains, Laupahoehoe in the Hamakua District, in the mountains above Hilo, Pahoa, Glen-wood, Honaunau in South Kona, and the unknown location "Kalanilehua." One population of five mature individuals and two juveniles is known to still exist in Laupahoehoe Natural Area Reserve, which is owned and managed by the State of Hawaii. Approximately four additional populations, totaling 50-100 individuals, were recently rediscovered during surveys by National Tropical Botanical Garden in the Kohala Mountains. Two additional populations in Laupahoehoe Natural Area Reserve (NAR) have not been seen since 1982 and could not be relocated in 1989. The extant Laupahoehoe population has been spot-fenced by the NAR System to protect it from pig depredation.


The major known threats to C. platyphylla are pigs; habitat-modifying introduced plant taxa, including strawberry guava, guava, sweet granadilla, and thimbleberry; rats, which may eat the fruit; and volcanic activity. Another threat is the risk of extinction from naturally occurring events and/or reduced reproductive vigor due to the low numbers of populations and individuals.

Conservation and Recovery

As of May 1998, Volcano Rare Plant Facility has 38 plants, and also donated 12 plants to the Division of Forestry and Wildlife for outplanting in a fenced area in the Waiakea Forest Reserve. The National Tropical Botanical Garden has 18 plants in their nursery and 125 seeds in storage. Propagation by tissue culture has also been attempted. The extant Laupahoehoe population was fenced by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife in 1966 to protect it from pig depredation; however, this fence was vandalized shortly thereafter. The Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry is working with the University of Hawaii's Cooperative Parks Studies Unit to develop a biocontrol program for strawberry gauva.


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


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1998. "Big Island II: Addendum to the Recovery Plan for the Big Island Plant Cluster." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, OR. 80 pp. + appendices.

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Haha (Cyanea platyphylla)

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