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Lo'ulu (Pritchardia munroi)

Lo'ulu

Pritchardia munroi

Status Endangered
Listed October 8, 1992
Family Arecaceae (Palm)
Description Palm with deeply segmented leaves and long drooping tips with spherical black, shiny fruit.
Habitat Remnant dry to mesic forest.
Threats Habitat disturbance; and predation by wild, feral, or domestic animals.
Range Hawaii

Description

Lo'ulu (Pritchardia munroi ) is a palm tree 13-16 ft (4-5 m) in height with a trunk up to about 7.8 in (19.8 cm) in diameter. The leaf blade is about 33 in (0.8 m) long and has a petiole also about 33 in (83.8 cm) long. Both the ciliated leaves and ciliated petioles have scattered, mostly deciduous, scales. The leaves are deeply segmented and have long, drooping tips. Numerous bisexual or functionally male flowers are arranged in clusters on hairy, branching stalks about 20 in (50.8 cm) long that originate at the leaf bases. The flower consists of a cup-shaped, three-lobed calyx; three petals; six stamens; and a three-lobed stigma. The nearly spherical mature fruit is shiny, black, and about 0.8 in (2 cm) in diameter. This species is distinguished from others in the genus by its relatively smooth leaves, the gray-ish brown hair on the inflorescence stalks that are shorter than the petioles, and the small size of the fruit.

Habitat

The only known population of P. munroi grows near the base of a small ravine in remnant dry to mesic forest at an elevation of about 2,000 ft (610 m) on East Molokai. Associated plant species include 'a'ali'i, 'ohi'a, pukiawe, and hala pepe.

Distribution

P. munroi was found historically above Kamalo and near Kapuaokoolau on leeward East Molokai. The last known wild specimen, as of the middle 1990s, was growing on privately owned land on Molokai at the base of a small ravine at an elevation of about 2,000 ft (610 m).

Threats

A variety of threats affects the only known wild individual of P. munroi. Axis deer, goats, and pigs continue to degrade the habitat around its fenced enclosure and prevent the establishment of seedlings. Other serious threats include fire and predation of seeds by rats. The one known wild individual is vulnerable to extinction in its natural habitat because a single random naturally occurring event could destroy the plant.

Conservation and Recovery

The State of Hawaii constructed an exclosure fence in 1989 around the last remaining individual of this species in the wild.

The National Botanic Garden and Waimea Arboretum have propagated this species, yet little is known about the reproduction or genetics of this species. It remains unclear whether hybridization with other species occurs, and the species integrity of the cultivated plants remains uncertain as a result. In 1992, approximately 22 plants of P. munroi were in cultivation in various arboreta and institutions throughout the world.

In order to prevent this species from going extinct, the propagation and maintenance of cultivated genetic stock should be continued. The ex-closure fence should be enlarged and maintained to protect the last remaining individual from deer, goats, and pigs, and to allow for the establishment of additional individuals. Rodent control should be conducted to protect any viable seeds produced. This individual should also be protected from fires.

Contacts

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
http://pacific.fws.gov/

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

Reference

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 8 October 1992. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of Endangered or Threatened Status for 16 Plants from the Island of Molokai, Hawaii." Federal Register 57 (196): 46325-46340.

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