CPC Plant Profile: Sticky-bud Pritchardia
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Plant Profile

Sticky-bud Pritchardia (Pritchardia viscosa)

Mature specimen in native habitat. Photo Credit: S. Perlman
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Arecaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 157769
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 07/09/1992

There are twenty three species of Pritchardia endemic to Hawaii, all are threatened with extinction. This particular species, Pritchardia viscosa, is threatened with extinction for a number of reasons, not the least of them is the fact that there is only one remaining population with only four individuals in it. This small population size is due to invasive plant species, grazing of introduced animals, and even hurricanes, as in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki destroyed half of the known population. P. viscosa, a member of the palm family (Arecaceae) is a small palm 3 to 8 meters (10 to 26 ft) tall. The lower surfaces of the leaf blades are silvery gray and covered with small scales. The inflorescences and leaf stalks are approximately the same lengths (15 to 20 cm), and consist of one to three loosely branched panicles. The flowers of P. viscosa are located in two separate rows and are very shiny and sticky. The fruits are about 2.5 centimeters wide and shaped like pears. This species differs from others of the genus that grow on Kauai by the degree of hairiness of the lower surface of the leaves and main axis of the flower cluster, and length of the flower cluster (USFWS 1996).

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Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to a small area in eastern Kauai. Several wild trees died from injuries sustained during Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Only 2 wild plants are known to remain today. The species is threatened by rats feeding on the fruits and competition with alien plants.

  • 01/01/2010

Threats to P. viscosa include competition from non-native invasive species such as Psidium cattleianum (strawberry guava) and alien grasses, such as Paspalum conjugatum (Hilo grass). Rats eat the fruit of P. viscosa and are a serious threat to the reprodu

  • 01/01/2010

Number of Populations: 1 (USFWS 2001) Number of Plants: 4 (USFWS 2001)

  • 01/01/2010

P. viscosa has been successfully propagated from seed and tissue culture. There are also 20 plants in cultivation. No other conservation efforts have been made (USFWS 1998).

  • 01/01/2010

Although many palm seeds do not store well under standard storage methods, tests are a being conducted on cryopreservation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Seed Storage Laboratory, also known as the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP). NTBG currently has ex situ holdings of six plants in the nursery and seven plants in the grounds of the botanical garden that represent two founders from the single population.

  • 01/01/2010

1. Construct enclosures to protect P. viscosa against feral ungulates. Emergency actions should be taken to immediately fence the remaining population. Once the enclosure is established, weed management should be performed especially on Hilo grass (Paspalum conjugatum) and strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum). 2. Reduce the threat of rodent predation by developing a rat control plan. 3. Maintain an adequate genetic stock of P. viscosa. Maintenance of adequate ex situ stock should be continued. Wild seeds should also be collected periodically until the cryopreservation method of long-term storage is perfected. This will ensure that viable seed stock is available for outplanting. 4. Pollination biology and seed dispersal studies are needed. 5. Map genetic diversity in the surviving populations of P. viscosa. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, and USFWS (1998).

  • 01/01/2010

1. Establish secure ex situ stocks with full founder representation. 2. Develop proper horticultural protocols and pest management for P. viscosa. 3. Survey ex situ holding and conduct molecular fingerprinting. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin and M. Maunder.


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Taxon Pritchardia viscosa
Authority Rock
Family Arecaceae
CPC Number 12967
ITIS 42492
Common Names loulu | stickybud pritchardia | lo'ulu | Loulu
Associated Scientific Names Pritchardia viscosa
Distribution P. viscosa is endemic to Kauai and was historically known only from a 1920 collection from Kalihiwai Valley. It was not seen again until 1990, when naturalist John Obata and Ken Wood, National Tropica
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1

P. viscosa is restricted to open wet forests on the windward side on the ridge that terminates the Powerline Trail, Kauai. They can be found at approximately 500 to 700 meters (1,640 to 2,300 ft) elevation (Wagner et al. 1999). Associated species of P. viscosa include Ilex anomala (aiea), Bobea sp. (ahakea), Antidesma sp. (hame), Cibotium splendens (hapuu), and Psychortia hexandra (kopiko) (USFWS 1996).

Ecological Relationships

Threats to P. viscosa include competition from non-native invasive species such as Psidium cattleianum (strawberry guava) and alien grasses, such as Paspalum conjugatum (Hilo grass). Rats eat the fruit of P viscosa and are a serious threat to the reproductive success of this species. Signs of boots used by someone to scale the tree have damaged one of the four remaining mature trees. In 1996, a young plant and seeds were removed from the only known location of this species. Because of this past activity, it is reasonable to assume that these plants are threatened by over-collection and vandalism. Natural catastrophic occurrences such as hurricanes also threaten P. viscosa (USFWS 1998).

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Butterflies & Moths
Brush-footed butterflies Vanessa tameamea Floral Visitor Link
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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