Nehe (Lipochaeta lobata var. leptophylla)

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Lipochaeta lobata var. leptophylla

ListedOctober 29, 1991
FamilyCompositae (Asteraceae)
DescriptionSomewhat woody, nearly prostrate perennial; with narrow leaves and yellow flower heads.
HabitatDry shrubland.
ThreatsAlien plant species, low numbers.


Lipochaeta lobata var. leptophylla is a somewhat woody perennial of the aster family with nearly prostrate stems up to 59 in (150 cm) long. The closely spaced leaves are narrowly lance-shaped to linear. The flower heads appear singly or in small clusters, consisting of eight to 15 yellow ray florets surrounding 20-65 yellow disk florets. Flowering is probably induced by rainfall.


L. lobata var. leptophylla is found in dry shrubland at elevations between 1,500 and 2,000 ft (457 and 610 m). Associated plants include aalii, alaala wai nui, and kookoolau.


L. lobata var. leptophylla was first collected in 1915 from the Waianae Mountains of Oahu. It has only been found from Kolekole Pass to Lualualei in the southern portions of these mountains. The three extant populations, occurring on federal land about 4.2 mi (6.8 km) apart, contained possibly 142 individuals in 1997two plants on Lualualei-Nanakuli Ridge, 100 on Puu Hapapa, and 40 on Puu Kaua. Populations may, however, consist of fewer distinct individuals than it appears because many individuals are connected underground by the roots and are probably clones.


The major threat to L. lobata var. leptophylla is competition from alien plant species, a threat shared by almost all rare native Hawaiian flora. Direct threats include Christmasberry (Schinus terebinthifolius ), an aggressive tree that forms dense thickets and may also release chemicals that inhibit the growth of other species; koa haole (Leucaena leucocephala ), another aggressive tree that creates its own nitrogen, allowing it to colonize low nitrogen soils; and molasses grass (Melinis minutiflora ), which grows in dense mats that smother native vegetation. Molasses grass is also fire adapted and provides fuel for spreading wildfires.

L. lobata var. leptophylla populations lie near the U.S. Army's Makua Military Reservation and Schofield Barracks. Within a 14-month period from 1989 to 1990, ten fires resulted from weapons practice on the reservation.

Conservation and Recovery

The National Tropical Botanical Garden and Lyon Arboretum are propagating this species, but more aggressive action needs to take place to protect the populations from goats, competing alien plants, and uncontrolled fires. In order to minimize damage from fires near its installations, the army has constructed firebreaks between weapon target areas and the surrounding forest.


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

Pacific Joint Venture
300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122
P.O. Box 50167
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850-0056
Telephone: (808) 541-2749


Cuddihy, L.W., and C.P. Stone. 1990. Alteration of Native Hawaiian Vegetation: Effects of Humans, Their Activities, and Introductions. Cooperative National Park Resources Study Unit, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

Culliney, J.L. 1988. Islands in a Far Sea: Nature and Man in Hawaii. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.

Stone, C.P., and J.M. Scott, eds. 1985. Hawai'i's Terrestrial Ecosystems: Preservation and Management. Cooperative National Park Resources Study Unit, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

Wagner, W.L., D.R. Herbst, and S.H. Sohmer. 1990. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai'i. University of Hawaii Press and Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu.