Argyroxiphium sandwicense DC. subsp. macrocephalum (A. Gray) Meyrat

Last Addition: April 21, 2006

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


Stunning silversword rosettes contrast with the sparsely vegetated, lunar-like, but colorful landscape of Haleakala cinder (East Maui - photo circa 1965).
The leaves are clothed with a dense layer of silvery hairs and are arranged in a parabolic rosette that focuses the rays from the sun and elevates the temperature of leaves near the shoot tip as much as 20 degrees C above the surrounding leaves. (photo circa 1965)
Silversword Alley, Haleakala, East Maui.
Robert Robichaux strokes one of his pets in a typical silversword habitat on the outer slopes near the summit of Haleakala, East Maui. (photo 1983)
Silverswords may grow for 50 years or more as a compact rosette before they initiate a flowering stalk in a rapid bolting process that reaches full development in just a few weeks. The number of individuals flowering in a given season (usually June-July) ranges from zero to a few thousand. (photo 1977)
A well-formed individual on the floor of the summit depression of Haleakala, East Maui. (photo 1985)
A cluster of plants on the floor of Haleakala.
This attractive individual is near its peak of floral development. (photo 1985)
A striking flowering plant from Silversword Loop in Haleakala (photo 1978)
This is a portion of the flowering stalk that may reach a length of 1.5 meters and bear up to 600 heads. (photo 1977
Each head has up to 40 peripheral ray flowers and 600 disk flowers. One of the small native bee pollinators is doing its thing on this head. (photo 1977)
Close view of one of the important pollinators (Nesoprosopis volcanica) of the Haleakala silversword.
A native tephritid fly whose larvae depend on fruits of the Haleakala silversword.
This exceedingly rare mutant form of the Haleakala silversword lacks normal flower pigmentation. (photo 1983)
Though this individual is past its prime of floral development, the vista from the brink of the summit depression of East Maui provides a sense of the setting of the Haleakala silversword. (photo 1991)
In the waning twilight of life, as seed development proceeds, the reserves accumulated in the rosette over a period of many years are mobilized into the fruiting stalk, and the once succulent leaves become flacid. (photo 1983)
Following fruit maturation, the plant dies, seeds are dispersed, and the stalk and depleted leaves begin to disintegrate. Such is the life of a monocarpic plant. Continuation of the species is contingent on the fate of the many seeds produced in this all-out effort. (see the Mauna Kea silversword page for a picture of a seedling) (photo 1980)

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