Nehe (Lipochaeta tenuifolia)

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Lipochaeta tenuifolia

ListedOctober 29, 1991
FamilyCompositae (Asteraceae)
DescriptionPerennial with long, trailing stems and yellow flower heads.
HabitatRidges and bluffs in moist forest.
ThreatsFeral pigs and goats, alien plant species, uncontrolled fires.


Lipochaeta tenuifolia is a somewhat woody member of the aster family with 10-ft (3-m) stems that partially trail along the ground. The paired, opposite leaves are so deeply lobed that they appear to be six separate leaves. The flower heads that occur singly or in pairs contain 8-10 yellow ray florets and 20-30 yellow disk florets. The small seeds are slightly winged. The species has been observed flowering in April.


L. tenuifolia grows on open ridge tops and bluffs in moist forest at elevations between 1,200 and 1,300 ft (365 and 400 m). The habitat is dominated by Christmasberry and 'ohi'a. Associated species include ko'oko'olau, molasses grass, Hamakua pamakani, and spreading mist flower.


L. tenuifolia, first collected in 1840 on Oahu, was found only in the northern Waianae Mountains, ranging from Kaluakauila Gulch to Kamaileunu Ridge and east to Mount Kaala. Reduced numbers continue to occur throughout the historic range. Nine known populations occur on federal and state land over an area of 30 sq mi (78 sq km). This area contained an estimated 2,000 plants in 1997.


The main threats to L. tenuifolia are habitat degradation by feral pigs and goats, competition for light and space from alien plant species, and uncontrolled fires.

Populations of L. tenuifolia lie near the U. S. Army's Makua Military Reservation and Schofield Barracks. Within a 14-month period from 1989 to 1990, 10 fires resulted from weapons practice on the reservation. In order to minimize damage from fires, the army has constructed firebreaks between the target areas and the surrounding forest.

Conservation and Recovery

The U. S. Army has adopted a fire management plan that includes realigning targets and establishing firebreaks. Implementation of the plan may aid in protecting this species from fire. Completion of a boundary fence on the south and southeast perimeter of Makua Valley and continued goat control efforts, though limited, should help to protect the Makua-Keaau ridge plant from further goat damage.

This species is being propagated at the Lyon Arboretum and the 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
Pacific Remote Islands Ecological Services Field
P. O. Box 50088
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850-5000
Telephone: (808) 541-1201
Fax: (808) 541-1216


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