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Lysimachia Maxima

Lysimachia maxima

No Common Name

Status Endangered
Listed October 10, 1996
Family Primulaceae (Primrose)
Description Sprawling shrub with reddish-brown bark.
Habitat 'Ohi'a-uluhe montane wet forest.
Threats Landslides; habitat degradation by pigs.
Range Hawaii


Lysimachia maxima, a member of the primrose family (Primulaceae), is a sprawling shrub with reddish brown bark. The leaves, borne in groups of three along the stems, are oval with the broadest portion at the tip of the leaves. The leaves are 1.5-3 in (3.8-7.6 cm) long and 0.7-2 in (1.8-5 cm) wide; when young, upper surfaces have a few scattered hairs and lower surfaces are covered with long, soft, and rusty hairs. The corolla is purplish-yellow, bell-shaped, and about 0.4-0.5 in (1-1.3 cm) long. This species is differentiated from others in this genus by the leaves borne in groups of three, the broadest portion of the leaf above the middle, and rusty hairs that disappear with maturity. Flowers, buds, and immature fruit have been observed in late May through July. William Hillebrand considered a plant he collected in Pelekunu Valley in the 1800s to be a new variety of L. hillebrandii. In 1905, R. Knuth named Hillebrand's specimen L. hillebrandii var. maxima. Harold St. John elevated this variety to a species in 1987, calling it L. ternifolia, and this plant was termed L. maxima three years later. An ongoing revision of the genus has determined that L. ternifolia is an invalid published name and concurs that L. maxima is the correct name for this species.


L. maxima occurs in 'ohi'a-uluhe montane wet forest at an elevation of 3,200 ft (975 m). Associated species include Psychotria sp. (kopiko), Vaccinium sp. (ohelo), Hedyotis sp. (manono), Dubautia sp. (na'ena'e), and Ilex anomala (kawa'u).


L. maxima is only known from one population on the rim of Pelekunu Valley near Ohialele, on the Nature Conservancy's Pelekunu Preserve immediately adjacent to state-owned land managed as part of Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Approximately 20-40 individuals were known in 1996.


The major threats to L. maxima are landslides and the risk of extinction from other random natural events and reduced reproductive vigor due to the small number of individuals in the only known population. Pigs and goats are known from adjacent areas and pose a potential threat to this species should they invade the habitat where the plants are found. If not controlled, habitat degradation by pigs may become a significant problem to the remaining L. maxima plants. L. maxima is known from only a single population of between 20 and 40 individuals; as such, collection of even a few whole plants or their reproductive parts could threaten the survival of this species.

Conservation and Recovery

L. maxima cuttings have been collected and propagated at the Lyon Arboretum and National Tropical Botanical Garden.


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


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1988. "Molokai II: Addendum to the Recovery Plan for the Molokai Plant Cluster." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. 52 pp.

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