Ha'iwale (Cyrtandra giffardii)

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Cyrtandra giffardii

ListedMarch 4, 1994
FamilyGesneriaceae (African violet)
DescriptionShrubby tree with opposite, stalked, papery-textured, toothed leaves having a few tiny, coarse hairs on the upper surface; and clusters of three to five white flowers.
HabitatShady koa-, 'ohi'a-, and tree fern-dominated montane wet forests.
ThreatsHabitat destruction by feral pigs; limited numbers.


This ha'iwale, Cyrtandra giffardii, is a shrubby tree usually 10-20 ft (3.0-6.1 m) tall. The opposite, stalked, papery-textured, toothed leaves are usually 2.4-4.7 in (6.1-11.9 cm) long and 1.0-1.8 in (2.5-4.6 cm) wide and have a few tiny, coarse hairs on the upper surface. Clusters of 3-5 flowers have a moderate amount of short brown hairs throughout the cluster, a main stalk 1-1.4 in (2.5-3.6 cm) long, two linear bracts about 0.25 in (6.4 mm) long, and individual flower stalks 0.6-1.2 in (1.5-3.0 cm) long. The calyx, 0.1-0.4 in (2.5-10.1 mm) long, has an outer covering of short brown hairs and is divided into five narrowly triangular lobes. The corolla consists of five fused white petals about 0.5 in (1.3 cm) long, with lobes about 0.08-0.1 in (2.0-2.5 mm) long. Only immature berries have been observed, and they were white and about 0.4 in (10.7 mm) long. Both this species and C. tintinnabula are distinguished from others of the genus and others on the island of Hawaii by a combination of the following characteristics: the opposite, more or less elliptic, papery leaves; the presence of some hairs on the leaves and more on the inflorescence; the presence of three to six flowers per inflorescence; and the size and shape of the flowers and flower parts.

This species was observed in fruit and flower during June of 1979 and November of 1988, and in flower during January of 1918 and December of 1933. No other life history information is currently available.


This species typically grows in shady koa-, 'ohi'a-, and tree fern-dominated montane wet forests at elevations between 2,400-4,900 ft (0.6-1.5 km). Associated species include other taxa of Cyrtandra (ha'iwale), Hedyotis spp., and olomea.


Historically, C. giffardii was found on the island of Hawaii on the northeastern slope of Mauna Kea near Kilau Stream and south to the eastern slope of Mauna Loa near Kilauea Crater.

Since 1975, 11 populations have been identified with the total number of individuals estimated to exceed 1,000. These occur near Puu Makaala, Stain-back Highway, and Kilau stream in Laupahoehoe Natural Area Reserve on state-owned land, and at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. As of 1994, 55 known individuals occurred in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on transects in the Koa unit and 35 additional individuals were identified in another area of the Koa unit that were not on the transects. Six occurred on transects in the Puu unit (two inside an exclosure and four outside), and 27 individuals occurred on transects in the agricultural unit of the Olaa tract, as well as two on transects in Small tract.


Rooting and trampling by pigs result in profound degradation of the substrate and native vegetation. Habitat destruction inevitably leads to alien plant invasions, particularly Andropogon virginicus, which ultimately becomes a problem. Control of alien taxa is imperative and fencing to exclude feral animals and control of alien weeds will assist in preserving C. giffardii. Small numbers of populations and individuals may depress and limit the reproductive potential, and also increase the vulnerability of this taxon to extinction from the occurrence of a catastrophic event.

Conservation and Recovery

Attempts have been made at Volcano Rare Plant Facility to germinate seed of C. giffardii without success. Further attempts will be pursued when more seed is acquired. All of the Koa unit and some of the Puu unit of the Olaa tract in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are fenced and have been declared pig free. All but four of the plants in this and the Small tract are within exclosures.

The plants appear healthy and are flowering and fruiting. It is undetermined how many juveniles are present because they are difficult to distinguish from mature plants.


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

Senior Resident Agent Office
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 7-235
P.O. Box 50223
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850-5000
Telephone: (808) 541-2681
Fax: (808) 541-3062


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 4 March 1994. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plant; Determination of Endangered or Threatened Status for 21 Plants from the Island of Hawaii, State of Hawaii." Federal Register 59 (43): 10305-10325.