Palila Forest Discovery Trail

Stenogyne microphylla


(Hawaiian small-leaved mint)

Stenogyne microphylla,


amakihi and flowerThis Hawaiian small-leaved mint, or Mā‘ohi‘ohi grows in a vine-like fashion on other plants, but does not harm them.  Like other Hawaiian mints, this species is “mint-less;” that is, having no mint taste at all. Mistiness and most plant flavors are a defense mechanism that evolved over time to repel grazing animals. With no native grazing mammals in Hawai‘i, most of our native plants (including our mints), have lost these defenses. The entire Stenogyne genus and all 22 members is unique only to Hawai‘i. Note the curved shape of the flower; it’s the same shape of the ‘amakihi’s bill, showing a clear evolutionary relationship between the bird and this flower.