CPC Plant Profile: Green-flower Indian-mallow
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Plant Profile

Green-flower Indian-mallow (Abutilon sandwicense)

Closeup of bud, opening flower & leaves. Photo Credit: Steve Perlman
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 146099
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 07/09/1992

There are three threatened Abutilon species endemic to Hawaii (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] 2001). This particular species once occurred along nearly the entire length of the Waianae Mountains on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, but its populations are rapidly declining. In 1998, 14 populations were recorded (USFWS 1998), three years later, only 12 populations were located (USFWS 2001). A. sandwicense, a member of the mallow family (Malvaceae) is a shrub that can grow 1.5 to 3 meters (10 feet) tall. The pale green, heart-shaped leaves of A. sandwicense are sparsely puberulent with margins that are slightly dentate (toothed along the margins). The small (4 to 5 cm long) greenish flowers of A. sandwicense can be found growing out of the plants leaf axils, drooping downward like pendulums. Their calyx is greenish yellow with petals that are bright green to reddish brown with green veins. (Wagner et al. 1999) A. sandwicense flowers in the winter and spring, fruit capsules take approximately six weeks to ripen. Germination of seeds is often successful in the wild, as seedlings are often initially abundant. However, few plants survive to maturity for unknown reasons. (USFWS 2002)

Participating Institutions
Updates
Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to the Waianae Mountains, Oahu. There are 13 current occurrences, with an estimated 300 individuals. The major threats to the species are various alien plants, feral mammals (pigs and goats), and fire.

  • 01/01/2010

Threats to A. sandwicense include competition from alien plant species (Christmas berry [Schinus terebinthifolius], kukui [Aleurites moluccana], kosters curse [Clidemia hirta], molasses grass [Melinus minutiflora] and huehue haole [Passiflora suberosa]),

  • 01/01/2010

In 2001, there were 12 populations left and 200-300 individuals of this species left (USFWS 2001). Of these 12 populations, 8 of these number fewer than 10 individuals each, and the remaining 4 populations number between 30-100 individuals each.

  • 01/01/2010

The seeds of A. sandwicense have been tested by the National Seed Storage Laboratory (NSSL), indicating that they are probably orthodox (Yoshinaga 2002).

  • 01/01/2010

The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii (TNCH) is monitoring and controlling alien weeds around one population of A. sandwicense in Honouliuli Preserve at Huliwai Gulch. Those 11 plants seem to be healthy, but they are threatened by human activity on an adjacent trail and also by the invasive plant, huehue haole (Passiflora suberosa). The Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DOFAW), has targeted A. sandwicense to be outplanted at Pahole Nature Area Reserve (NAR). The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) has also successfully propagated A. sandwicense (USFWS 1998). NTBG currently has ex situ holdings of 277 seeds in its seed bank, derived from two of the twelve populations. In addition, three individuals from two populations are growing in the grounds of the botanical garden. In May, 2002, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that a designation of critical habitat was prudent for this species. (USFWS 2002)

  • 01/01/2010

1. After testing the effects of fencing, construct enclosures to protect the wild population against feral ungulates, on State, Federal, and private grounds. 2. Control competing invasive plant species within enclosures. 3. Survey areas that are likely to have other populations of A. sandwicense such as areas around Puu Pane and the Waianae Mountains. 4. Implement control methods for the coffee twig borer. 5. Protect wild populations of A. sandwicense from fire by coordinating plan to protect state natural area reserves such as Mt. Kaala, and Mokuleia NAR (Natural Area Reserve), and federal lands such as Schofield Barracks Military Reservation. 6. Map genetic diversity in the surviving populations of A. sandwicense. 7. Conduct pollination biology and seed dispersal studies. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, and USFWS (1998).

  • 01/01/2010

1. Establish seed collections from all accessible wild populations, with seed collected from available wild founder individuals. 2. Development of proper horticultural protocols and pest management for A. sandwicense. 3. Establish an ex situ population on Oahu to support recovery activity. 4. Survey ex situ holding and conduct molecular fingerprinting. 5. Test seedlings from botanic gardens to ascertain levels of hybridization with congenerics. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin and M. Maunder.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Abutilon sandwicense
Authority (Degener) Christoph.
Family Malvaceae
CPC Number 14
ITIS 21681
USDA ABSA2
Common Names green-flowered abutilon | greenflower Indian mallow
Associated Scientific Names Abutilon sandwicense | Abutilon sandwicense var. welchii | Abortopetalum sandwicense
Distribution A. sandwicense is endemic to Oahu and was historically found along nearly the entire length of the Waianae Mountains, from Makaleha Valley to Nanakuli Valley. This species is now recorded from Makaleh
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1
Habitat

A. sandwicense is found in dry forests between 400 to 600 meters (1,312 to 1,969 ft) elevation (Wagner et al. 1999). Associated dry forest species for A. sandwicense include Diospyros spp. (lama), Pipturus albidus (mamaki), Elaeocarpus bifidus (kalia), Sapindus oahuensis (aulu), Nestegis sandwicensis (olopua), and Psydrax orodatum (alahee).

Ecological Relationships

A. sandwicense is a hermaphrodite that is presumed to be insect-pollinated (Sakai et al. 1995).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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