Nehe (Lipochaeta micrantha)

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Lipochaeta micrantha

ListedFebruary 25, 1994
FamilyCompositae (Asteraceae)
DescriptionWoody perennial herb that grows along the ground; with triangular leaves and flower heads that cluster in groups of two to three.
HabitatExposed rocky slopes in diverse lowland mesic forests or on grassy ridges.
ThreatsGoats, pigs, alien plants, limited numbers.


This nehe, Lipochaeta micrantha, is a somewhat woody perennial herb of the aster family. The 1.5-6.5 ft (5-21 m) long stems grow along the ground and root at the nodes, with the tip of the stem growing upward. The roughly triangular leaves measure 0.8-3.8 in (2-9.5 cm) long and 0.5-3.1 in (1.5-8 cm) wide. They are sparsely hairy, with margins smooth or variously lobed. Flower heads are in clusters of two or three. Each head contains four to five ray florets, 0.1-0.2 in (0.3-0.5 cm) long and 0.06-0.14 in (0.2-.36 cm) wide, and five to nine disk florets, about 0.1 in (0.25 cm) long. The two recognized varieties of this species, exigua and micrantha, are distinguished by different leaf length and width, degree of leaf dissection, and the length of the ray florets. The smaller number of disk florets separates this species from the other members of the genus on Kauai.


Both varieties of L. micrantha grow on exposed rocky slopes in diverse lowland mesic forests and sometimes on grassy ridges at elevations of 1,000-1,300 ft (305-396 m). Associated vegetation includes alahe's (Psydrax sp.), lama, 'ohi'a, and Neraudia kauaiensis.


L. micrantha var. micrantha, apparently the more widely distributed variety on Kauai, had historical occurrences at Olokele Canyon, Hanapepe Valley, and in the Koloa District.

The two populations of L. micrantha var. exigua on Kauai number between 100 and 500 total individuals, distributed over a 1.5-mi (2.4-km) distance on privately owned portions of Haupu Range. L. micrantha var. micrantha is now known from two to four populations located on state land in Koaie Canyon, totaling 150-570 individuals.


The major threats to both varieties of L. micrantha are habitat degradation by feral goats and pigs and competition with alien plants like lantana (Lantana camara ). Daisy fleabane and Stachytarpheta spp. are also competitors. Both varieties are threatened by stochastic extinction and reduced reproductive vigor.

Conservation and Recovery

L. micrantha var. micrantha has been successfully propagated and then cultivated by the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Lyon Arboretum, and Waimea Arboretum. In 1995, Lyon Arboretum held 36 plants in their nursery and Waimea Arboretum 26 plants and 10 cuttings. L. micrantha var. exigua has also been successfully propagated and then cultivated by the National Tropical Botanical Garden, where plants are presently growing.


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

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. 25 February 1994. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of Endangered or Threatened Status for 24 Plants from the Island of Kauai, HI." Federal Register 59 (38): 9304-9329.