Silene Lanceolata

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Silene lanceolata

No Common Name

ListedOctober 8, 1992
FamilyCaryophyllaceae (Pink)
DescriptionUpright perennial plant with narrow leaves and white, deeply lobed, clawed petals.
HabitatCliff faces and ledges of gullies in dry to mesic shrubland.
ThreatsHabitat disturbance and predation by wild, feral, or domestic animals, fire, competition from alien plants, military exercises.


Silene lanceolata is an upright perennial plant of the pink family with stems that are woody at the base and 6-20 in (15-50 cm) long. The narrow leaves are 1-3 in (2.5-7.5 cm) long, 0.08-0.4 in (2-10 mm) wide, and glabrous except for a fringe of hairs near the base. The flowers are arranged in open clusters with stalks 0.3-0.9 in (8-23 mm) long. The five-toothed, 10-veined calyx is about 0.3 in (8 mm) long. The five white, deeply lobed, and clawed petals are 0.2 in (5 mm) long. The capsule is about 0.3 in (8 mm) in length and opens at the top to release reddish-brown seeds about 0.04 in (1 mm) in diameter. This species is distinguished from S. alexandri by its smaller flowers and capsules and by having stamens that are shorter than the sepals.


The S. lanceolata populations on the island of Hawaii grow in two dry habitat types. The first occurrence grows in a shrubland dominated by dense naio, mamane, pukiawe, and assorted introduced grasses; the second occurrence grows on aa lava in a former akoko forest that has been converted by fountain grass into a grassland with 'a'ali'i, ma-mane, naio, and 'aheahea. On Molokai, this species grows on cliff faces and ledges of gullies in dry to mesic shrubland at an elevation of about 2,600 ft (790 m).


The historical range of S. lanceolata includes five Hawaiian Islands: Kauai, Makua on Oahu, below Puu Kolekole on East Molokai, Maunalei on Lanai, and Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island. In the late twentieth century, S. lanceolata was extant on the islands of Molokai, Oahu, and Hawaii. A single population of approximately 100 individuals was found in 1987 on Molokai, on private land near Puu Kolekole. The Hawaii Island population at Puu Ahi was last seen in 1949. In 1991, two populations of this species were discovered on federal land in Kipuka Kalawamauna and Kipuka Alala in the U. S. Army's Pohakuloa Training Area, which is located in the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The three Hawaii Island populations are distributed over a distance of roughly 9 mi (14.5 km) at elevations of about 5,200-6,000 ft (1,580-1,830 m). It is not known whether the Pun Ahi population still exists after decades of ungulate, human-caused, and natural disturbances. The two populations at the Pohakuloa Training Area number between 95 and 125 individuals. A fifth population was discovered in 1991 by Steve Perlman at the U. S. Army's Makua Military Reservation in the Walanae Mountains on the island of Oahu. This population consisted of approximately 40 individuals in 1992, raising the total for this species on all three islands to less than 1,500.


Immediate threats to S. lanceolata include habitat destruction by feral goats, pigs, and sheep; wildfires resulting from hunting activities and military maneuvers; and the invasion of the alien plant fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ). Military exercises and predation by goats and sheep pose probable threats.

Conservation and Recovery

Seeds of this species have been collected by 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 Office
300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 3-122
P.O. Box 50088
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850-5000
Telephone: (808) 541-1201
Fax: (808) 541-1216


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 8 October 1992. "Determination of Endangered or Threatened Status for 16 Plants from the Island of Molokai, Hawaii." Federal Register 57 (196): 46325-46340.