Volcano Rare Plant Facility – FY 2010 Report

Volcano Rare Plant Facility is part of a state-wide program to prevent native plant extinctions by propagation and outplanting. 146 threatened or endangered plant species occur on the island of Hawaii, 24 of those are considered to be extinct in the wild. Through various methods of plant propagation and by maintaining a gene bank of plants and seeds Volcano Rare Plant Facility staff works to increase these plant numbers and to preserve genetic diversity. Research at Volcano Rare Plant Facility included developing propagation and horticultural treatments for plants and studying the phenology of taxa that have not previously been investigated. Working closely with collectors from Plant Extinction Prevention Program, Natural Area Reserve System, and Forestry, populations are tracked and new founders are added to maximize founder representation. Volcano Rare Plant Facility staff collaborates with Federal, State and private land managers to restore threatened and endangered species to appropriate habitat. Volcano Rare Plant Facility’s inventory this fiscal year included 86 species (50 endangered, 11 candidate, and 24 species of concern). In addition, Volcano Rare Plant Facility staff produced 6023 threatened or endangered plants for out-planting. These plants represent 50 listed species that were restored to protected sites on the Big Island.

In Fiscal Year 2010 Volcano Rare Plant Facility staff worked on 275 new plant accessions. Volcano Rare Plant Facility staff developed propagation treatments, studied phenology and tested new fertilizers, pesticides and growth media appropriate for native plants from diverse Big Island habitats. Especially effective were Joinvillea ascendens propagation which had been problematic in the past and air-layering experiments on Clermontia peleana and Melicope zahlbruckneri.

The FY2010 inventory of rare plants covers 86 species with 50 listed as endangered, 11 listed as candidates for listing, and 24 listed by the State of Hawaii as Species of Concern (SOC). These include genetically banked plants and seed, plants intended for future out-planting and species out-planted this year.

During this fiscal year Volcano Rare Plant Facility staff produced 6023 plants listed as threatened or endangered for out-planting to secure sites on the Big Island. The larger projects restored 1570 Argyroxiphium kauense to sites in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kapapala Forest Reserve, and Waiakea “Hunter’s bog exclosure”. 1080 Cyanea hamatiflora subsp carlsonii were planted in Kipahoehoe Natural Area Reserve. 1047 Clermontia lindseyana went to Kipahoehoe Natural Area Reserve, Puu Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve, US Fish and Wildlife Hakalau Wildife Refuge, Laupahoehoe Natural Area Reserve, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. 282 Clermontia peleana subsp peleana were out-planted in Puu Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve and Kipuka 21. 264 Ranunculus hawaiiensis were planted high on Mauna Kea. 253 Sesbania tomentosa were planted in a coastal site in Manuka Natural Area Reserve. 219 Cyrtandra menziesii were planted at Kipahoehoe Natural Area Reserve. Another 43 threatened and endangered species were out-planted in smaller numbers (less than 200) to various appropriate sites on the Big Island. In addition, 350,000 Argyroxiphium kauense seeds were dispersed in silversword enclosures and recruitment has been documented. An additional 890 unlisted native plants were produced to provide more diverse and robust native communities to enhance restoration projects.

Volcano Rare Plant Facility continues to receive support from the Hawaiian Silversword Foundation, providing private funding for insect and disease diagnosis, soil analysis, small equipment and greenhouse maintenance. Dr. Robert Robichaux, President of Hawaiian Silversword Foundation, also contributes time and expertise on genetic management, monitoring wild and out-planted populations, and coordinates and participates in restoration projects with our collaborators. Volcano Rare Plant Facility continues to have problems with vog but the drought conditions have really impacted the nursery. Many out-planting projects have been delayed and the water level in the nursery’s reservoir is lower than previous years.

Volcano Rare Plant Facility provided the following groups educational opportunities: International Union of Forest Research Organizations; National Science Foundation; Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; former employees of Kulani Prison which closed in 2009; Dr. Diane Haase, Western Nursery Specialist (Forest Service); Lynlie Wailau, Kauai Rare Plant Horticulturist and Wendy Kishida, Kauai PEP; and several volunteers this past fiscal year.