Argyroxiphium kauense (Rock & Neal) Degener & I. Degener

Erect, single stemmed and monocarpic or sparingly branched and polycarpic shrub, the flowering stems up to 2.5 m high. Diagnostic features of the species include greyish or silvery sericeous, narrowly linear-ligulate leaves mostly 2-4 dm long and 3-7 mm wide at midpoint and rosettes elevated on vegetative stems commonly 5-70 cm long. The few flowering specimens available were collected in August and September.

This species is of extremely localized distribution on the island of Hawai'i, on Mauna Loa (and perhaps, at least formerly, on Hualalai). It is found primarily in bogs or openings in wet forests at elevations ranging from about 1,625 to 1,900 m. It occurs in sites receiving about 100-375 cm of annual precipitation.

Last Modification: April 21, 2006

Each "thumbnail" image below is linked to a larger photograph.


Ka'u (Kahuku Ranch) population exhibiting severe grazing damage by mouflon (photo 1982)
Individual with apical meristem destroyed by mouflon grazing (Ka'u - Kahuku Ranch) (photo 1982).
One of very few undamaged larger plants in the population. Immediately to the left is Dubautia ciliolata and to the right (but barely discernable) is Dubautia scabra, both of which are known to hybridize with the Ka'u silversword. (Ka'u - Kahuku Ranch) (photo 1982).
Magnificent flowering Ka'u silversword before mouflon damage became significant (Ka'u - Kahuku Ranch) (photo 1978 - with the late Lani Stemmermann, a dear friend and strong advocate for Hawaii's unique biota).
Portion of capitulescence of Ka'u silversword.
Flowering heads of Ka'u silversword (Kahuku Ranch) (photo 1978).
Front view of flowering heads.
Ka'u silverswords in a very small bog near the Saddle Road (photo 1991).
Portion of a flowering stalk of Ka'u sword from the Saddle Road bog population (photo 1991).

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