Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae

Katherine again writes today’s entry:

Today, we have a beautiful image of Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae thanks to Anna Kadlec via the Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum.

Hibiscus waimeae has two subspecies (sometimes designated varieties): Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae and Hibiscus waimeae subsp. waimeae. Today’s featured subspecies is generally smaller overall (including smaller flowers) when compared to the subspecies waimeae, though it has larger leaves. Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae is endemic to Hawaii, and known by the Hawaiian names: Aloalo, Koki’o kea, and Koki’o ke’oke’o, In English, the taxon is commonly known as Kauai white hibiscus, minature Hawaiian white hibiscus, small Kauai white hibiscus, and white Kauai rosemallow. Native Plants Hawaii (see previous link) notes that the genus name stems from “hibiscos, Greek for ‘mallow’, and the epithet waimeae refers to the Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i where this species is found.” That reference also states that Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae blooms year round, although sporadically (often ceasing during winter or early spring), and is unusual among hibiscus in that it is one of only two species (both native to Hawaii) to have fragrant flowers.

According to the U.S. National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) page for Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae, these single flowers last only one day and are “white when open in [the] morning and fade to pink in the afternoon” with a staminal column that is pink to crimson. Easily grown in cultivation (it was previously used as decoration near huts), the taxon is considered endangered. It occurs only in Kaua’i’s northwestern valleys of Hanakapi’ai, Limahuli, and Kalihi Wai at elevations of 240 – 1,200m (800 – 3,900ft) (see previous link). Its rarity is in part due to the ease with which Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae hybridizes, and, according to the IUCN Red List, partly due to habitat being “frequently damaged by feral pigs and invaded by introduced plants”. The IUCN Red List also notes that the population on Kalihi Wai is seemingly extirpated.

Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae

7 responses to “Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae”

  1. natalie barringer

    How beautiful and dainty is this flower,and it is fragrant too. Having recently traveled in Hawaii,it is indeed a seeming paradise. Thanks for the wonderful photo showcasing this bloom.

  2. Shirley

    This flower grows in my aunt’s home in Kerala, India. As for fragrance, why have so many flowers lost their fragrance? I am talking about flowers sold in the shops of New York city and most roses that grow in homes in New York? Is it a protection developed by the flower to shield themselves from people?
    We called Hibiscus-Shoe Flower

  3. Anne

    I now need to go back through my photos from Kauai. I toured the NTBG when I was there and it was by far the highlight of my trip! We went to Waimea Canyon but only observed from above. I’d love to walk the canyon some day. I know the NTBG has a few other plants that are endangered or almost extinct.
    For Shirley-I am currently working as a florist and the answer I generally give to questions about fragrance is that the flowers we sell have been bred for longevity, stem length, color, and shipping tolerance. After all that, fragrance is a little too much to ask for.

  4. Ron B

    Hawaii leads the US in rate of extinction. Probably most people still think the introduced plants prevalent in heavily inhabitated zones are native. Typically even the rural landscape is dominated by introduced vegetation. There is extensive erosion and scrubbiness even in wilder areas and parks, there having been a long, sad history of severe deforestation and other dispruptions. Feral pigs and other introduced vertebrates continue to threaten elements of the natural flora. It is the world’s most isolated location, and has had a very long time to develop unique floristic and faunal elements that are highly vulnerable to exotic weeds and vermin that have come the human presence.

  5. Jane N

    One of NTBG’s missions is to conserve the rare and endangered Hawaiian plants. I encourage everyone to explore their website, http://www.ntbg.org. They have a beautiful gallery of tropical plants that will whet your appetite for visiting not only the Kauai South Shore gardens (Allerton and MacBryde), but also their Kauai North Shore garden, Limahuli, and especially their Hana, Maui,garden, Kahanu. The latter is well worth the experience of the Hana Highway!

  6. Barbara Rokeby

    There is an island off Maui which was used for military target practice and is now being re-rehabilitated with native species. Of course this will take a long time as the unexploded ordnance will have to be removed first.

  7. elizabeth a airhart

    hibiscus grow so well here in florida usa ntbg has a place
    in coconut grove florida over on the east coast
    the miami blue butterfly has now gone on the endangerd list
    only found in the keys now -thank you all for the comments

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