'Oha Wai (Clermontia lindseyana)

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'Oha Wai

Clermontia lindseyana

ListedMarch 4, 1994
FamilyCampanulaceae (Bellflower)
DescriptionBranched shrub or tree with alternate, stalked, toothed leaves, two whitish to purplish flowers, and orange berries.
HabitatKoa and 'ohi'a dominated montane mesic forests, often not rooted in soil, at high elevations.
ThreatsCompetition from alien plants; habitat destruction by cattle, goats and pigs; limited numbers.


This 'oha wai, Clermontia lindseyana, is a terrestrial or epiphytic (not rooted in the soil) branched shrub or tree 8.2-20 ft (2.5-6.1 m) tall. The alternate, stalked, toothed leaves are 5-9 in (12.7-22.8 cm) long and 1.5-2.6 in (3.8-6.6 cm) wide. Two flowers, each with a stalk 0.4-1 in (1-2.5 cm) long, are positioned at the end of a main flower stalk 1-1.6 in (2.5-4 cm) long. The calyx (fused sepals) and corolla (fused petals) are similar in size and appearance, and each form a slightly curved, five-lobed tube 2.2-2.6 in (5.6-6.6 cm) long and 0.4-0.7 in (1-1.8 cm) wide, which is greenish-white or purplish on the outside and white or cream-colored on the inside. The berries are orange and 1-1.6 in (2.5-4 cm) in diameter. This species is distinguished from others in this endemic Hawaiian genus by larger leaves and flowers, similar sepals and petals, and spreading floral lobes.


This species typically grows in koa and 'ohi'a dominated montane mesic forests, often epiphytically (on other plants) at elevations between 4,000 and 7,050 ft (1,219 and 2,149 m). Associated species include pilo, kawa'u, and kolea.


Historically, 'oha wai was known from the island of Maui on the southern slope of Haleakala, and from the island of Hawaii on the eastern slope of Mauna Kea and the eastern, southeastern, and southwestern slopes of Mauna Loa.

Since 1975, 12 populations of C. lindseyana have been identified, one on private, nine on state and two on federal land. One of these is on Maui and 11 are on the Big Island (Hawaii). Although the total number of extant individuals on the Big Island is unknown, approximately 86 individuals are thought to persist. The Maui population is located on state-owned land between Wailaulau Gulch and Manawainui Gulch, and estimated to consist of about 330 individuals.

Populations on the Big Island occur in or near Piha, Laupahoehoe, Makahanaloa, Kukuiopae, Puu Oo, Kulani Correctional Facility, Kahikinui, Kulani Boys Home, Kau Forest Reserve, and Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge. Observations indicate that most of the individuals are in excellent vigor.


Major habitat destruction resulting from ungulates, particularly pigs, is a primary cause of the decline of this taxon. Roof or black rats may limit fruit production. Loss of pollinators may limit the species' reproductive capability, making recovery difficult or impossible. Natural events such as fire and flooding may severely inhibit the survivability of the taxon.

Small numbers of individuals and the scattered distribution of populations are significant threats, not only because they limit the gene pool and further depress reproductive vigor, but because a single natural or human-induced disturbance may be catastrophic and lead to the extirpation of the taxon. Unwarranted visits could adversely impact the populations.

Conservation and Recovery

The recovery of this and most other Hawaiian species depends on how well management practices can be implemented. The habitat of this and other Hawaiian species has undergone extreme alteration because of past and present land management practices, including deliberately introducing alien animals and plants, and agricultural and recreational development. To understand the recovery problems facing this species, it is necessary to understand the long-term causes of habitat destruction.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
Eastside Federal Complex
911 N.E. 11th Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97232-4181
(503) 231-6121


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1996. "Big Island Plant Cluster Recovery Plan." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. 202+pp.

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'Oha Wai (Clermontia lindseyana)

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