Kula Wahine Noho

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Kula Wahine Noho

Isodendrion pyrifolium

ListedMarch 4, 1994
FamilyViolaceae (Violet)
DescriptionShrub with lance-shaped, papery leaves; and fragrant greenish yellow flowers.
HabitatDry sites in lowland dry to mesic forests at low elevations.
ThreatsCompetition from alien plants; habitat alteration by residential development; limited numbers.


Kula wahine noho is a shrub about 2.6-6.6 ft (0.7-2 m) tall, has persistent stipules and alternate, stalked, elliptic or sometimes lance-shaped, papery leaves that measure 1-2.6 in (2.5-6.6 cm) long and 0.3-1.3 in (0.7-3.3 cm) wide. The solitary or bilaterally symmetrical, fragrant flowers have five lance-shaped sepals 0.1-0.2 in (2.5-5 mm) long with membranous edges fringed with white hairs and three types of clawed greenish-yellow petals 0.4-0.6 in (1-1.5 cm) long with lobes about 0.2 in (5 mm) long. The three-lobed, 0.5 in (1.3 cm) long capsule opens to release olive-green seeds about 0.1 in (2.5 mm) long and about 0.08 in (2 mm) in diameter. This species differs from others in the genus by its slightly smaller, greenish-yellow flowers and by the presence of hairs on the stipule midribs and leaf veins.


This species typically grows on dry sites in lowland dry to mesic forests at low elevations. Associated species include 'iliaki, mamane, and 'uhaloa.


Historically, this species was found at unspecified locations on Niihau, Molokai, and Lanai, as well as on Oahu in the central portion of the Waianae Mountains; on Maui in the northeastern to southwestern regions of the West Maui Mountains; and on the island of Hawaii at the western base of Hualalai.

The species had not been collected since 1870 and was presumed extinct until 1991 when four plants were found on Hawaii at Kealakehe near Kona on state land being developed for residential housing and a golf course. In late 1992 and early 1993, 50-60 additional plants were found at this site.


The conversion of this species' natural habitat to residential and recreational developments is of grave concern, as is the presence of the aggressive alien fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ). Drying stands of this and other weedy species greatly increase the fire load and fire potential. Competition for nutrients with alien plant taxa such as koa haole (Leucaena leucocephala ) is a threat. Although more prolific than once anticipated, numbers of individuals are not abundant enough to maintain reproductive vigor, thus making random extirpation a possibility.

Conservation and Recovery

The National Tropical Botanical Garden has propagated the species and Lyon Arboretum has attempted to grow Isodendrion pyrifolium from immature seed but has had no success. The seeds appear to germinate slowly. To minimize negative impact to this species by the development of a subdivision in the area, the remaining wild individuals have been fenced in.

In order to prevent possible extinction of this species, propagation and maintenance of Isodendrion pyrifolium genetic stock is necessary. It is imperative that plans to fence and protect the remaining wild population be carried out. Control of fountain grass and koa haole should be undertaken in the habitat of the wild population. Propagation and outplanting of Isodendrion pyrifolium stock will be needed in order to establish a sufficient number of populations and plants for recovery. Efforts should be made to reestablish the species on Oahu and Maui within its known historical range in order to ensure against random extinction.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Pacific Islands Ecoregion
300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122
Box 50088, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96850
Telephone: (808) 541-3441
Fax: (808) 541-3470

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


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