“Recovering From Near Extinction”

Uploaded 25 Oct 2009 — 21 favorites
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© John Linton
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“The āhinahina is a member of the sunflower family and is endemic to the upper slopes of the volcano above 6,500-foot elevation.

The spectacular āhinahina, with a flowering stalk that can reach a height of four to six feet, gained fame in the early years of Hawaiian tourism. Often people removed living plants as proof that they had reached the summit of Haleakalā. By the 1920’s āhinahina, also known as the Haleakalā silversword, was very near extinction. Human vandalism, browsing by goats and cattle, and hikers severing roots by walking on sharp cinders near the plants contributed to the decline.

The rare plants flower only once, after many years of growth. They bloom in warm summer months from May through September. Each āhinahina must be pollinated by another āhinahina to produce fertile seeds. They rely on insect pollinators for reproduction and survival. In the past 20 years the annual number of flowering plants each season has varied from none to over 6,600.

The Argentine ant, an aggressive alien predator, recently established and is slowly spreading on the western slope of Haleakalā. The ant may present a serious threat to survival of āhinahina because it preys on native insects including pollinators of the āhinahina.

The loss of pollinators caused by the invasion of this foreign ant could result in a dramatic reduction in seed set and the subsequent disappearance of natural populations of the silversword.

‘Ahinahina, now protected by law as a threatened species, has thrived and increased under protection in Haleakalā National Park. Over 50,000 plants can now be found in the Park. A major threat to the āhinahina today is careless hikers trampling seedlings and damaging these sensitive plants.”

These were the words I found on the sign not far from the two plants I photographed at the 10,023-foot summit of Haleakalā on Maui.

Taken with a Canon EOS 350D camera with a Canon EFS 18-55mm lens on 25 March 2007.

The two photos were stitched together in Canon PhotoStudio.

20 responses

  • dp *

    dp * gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    Love the read and lovely tych. dp

  • Yasmina Baggili

    Yasmina Baggili (Deleted) gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    Great shot and explanation John. Well done

  • nö

    nö (Deleted) gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    āhinahinalicious ;)

  • Michael Ball

    Michael Ball gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    Great info!! Fantastic shots and entry!

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    Very interesting narrative about these beautiful plants and they sound they will thrive forever under protection of the law...Great one.

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    great shot, info and theme entry, John! Glad you keep the photo after this years. Just waiting for this right moment to surface.


    JOE FAILK gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    Perfect for the theme Great shot!

  • Zerina Phillip

    Zerina Phillip gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    wonderful John. Thank for the educational writing too. I learned something new today.

  • elfriede fulda

    elfriede fulda (Deleted) gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    Excellent entry,,I learned something too....thank you John....:-)

  • Karen Foto Fiddler

    Karen Foto Fiddler (Deleted) gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    These plants are really unique. It saddens me to see anything go extinct.

  • Judy Wanamaker

    Judy Wanamaker (Deleted) gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    They are unique and beautiful plants. It is too bad they are sustained by such a fragile web. Beautiful capture and triptych.

  • claudia luthi

    claudia luthi said (25 Oct 2009):

    incredible and most wonderful plant - thanks for sharing!

  • claudia luthi

    claudia luthi said (25 Oct 2009):

    ... and it has such an amazing name!

  • Maura Wolfson-Foster

    Maura Wolfson-Foster gave props (25 Oct 2009):

    Informative....... and divine entry!

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham (Deleted) gave props (26 Oct 2009):

    Great shots and entry John.

  • Alexis - Now on Flickr

    Alexis - Now on Flickr gave props (26 Oct 2009):

    Thank you so much for sharing this fascinating information - images and text

  • ! Mario Scattoloni ¡

    ! Mario Scattoloni ¡ gave props (29 Oct 2009):

    Now I know a bit more 2day thanxs JL.

  • Kathleen Mercado

    Kathleen Mercado (Deleted) said (29 Oct 2009):

    Rockin' JPG's theme park (most geniousesly)!

    Sorry...couldn't resist:):):)

  • adniloj

    adniloj gave props (9 Nov 2009):

    wow, indeed a theme rocker John!

  • Dunja Kolar

    Dunja Kolar gave props (20 May 2010):

    excellent photo!!!like it

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