CPC Plant Profile: Hairy-fruit Chewstick
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Plant Profile

Hairy-fruit Chewstick (Gouania hillebrandii)

Closeup of flowering branches for a native specimen. Photo Credit: Steve Perlman
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Rhamnaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 136200
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 07/09/1992

There are two endangered Gouania species endemic to Hawaii (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] 2001). G. hillebrandii, a member of the Buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae) is an erect to sprawling shrub that has pale to brown pilose stems with elliptic blades. The sweet fragrant flowers of G. hillebrandii are perfect (Wagner et al. 1999) and white, producing brown seeds (USFWS 1990). Flowering, fruiting, and vegetative growth occur mostly during the wet months of winter and early spring (USFWS 1996).

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Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

This species has been recorded from the islands of Molokai, Maui, Lanai, and Kahoolawe. Currently, it is known to be extant only on Molokai and Maui, with 6 occurrences containing fewer than 3,000 plants. The species and its habitats are threatened by cattle, feral goats and pigs, and the invasion of alien plant species. Fire is also a potential threat.

  • 01/01/2010

Threats to G. hillebrandii include browsing and grazing by feral and domestic livestock; removal of native vegetation and subsequent replacement by alien species; infestation by the exotic hibiscus snow scale (Pinnaspis strachani), and an unknown leaf-cut

  • 01/01/2010

Number of Populations: 3 (USFWS 2001) Number of Plants: 1700-2100 (USFWS 2001)

  • 01/01/2010

The Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), a federal-state-private partnership is working to prevent, contain, or eradicate the most serious plant and animal invasions that threaten G. hillebrandii (MISC 2001).

  • 01/01/2010

The main management objective is to protect the natural population of G. hillebrandii from threats of browsing and trampling by cattle and other feral or domestic live stock, from insect infestation, competition from alien plants, and from fire. Feral and domestic livestock have probably been the greatest threat historically to the species habitat. Trampling also promoted erosion and compacted soils, while destroying vegetation and litter important to soil-water relations. The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) currently has ex situ holdings of 713 seeds in its seed bank, which represents two out of the three populations

  • 01/01/2010

1. Undertake management in situ to ensure the continued existence of G. hillebrandii shrub including control of the hibiscus snow scale. 2. Terminating grazing leases on the land that G. hillebrandii exists. 3. Monitoring the population of G. hillebrandii. 4. Controlling insect predators, and preventing and controlling fires. 5. Conduct pollination biology studies on G. hillebrandii. 6. Map genetic diversity in the surviving populations of G. hillebrandii. 7. Test the influence of weeding and fencing on populations of G. hillebrandii. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, and USFWS (1996).

  • 01/01/2010

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


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Taxon Gouania hillebrandii
Authority Oliv. ex Hillebr.
Family Rhamnaceae
CPC Number 2050
ITIS 28543
Common Names Hillebrand's gouania | hairyfruit chewstick
Associated Scientific Names Gouania hillebrandii | Gouania cucullata | Gouania faurieri | Gouania lydgatei | Gouania mannii | Gouania pilata | Gouania remyi | Gouania sandwichiana | Gouania thinophila
Distribution G. hillebrandii was formerly found on Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Kaho'olawe. Today it is restricted to small pasture areas on slopes in the Lahaina district, west Maui (Wagner et al. 1999).
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1

G. hillebrandii is restricted to dry forests between 244 to 518 meters (800 to 1,700 ft) elevation (USFWS 1990).

Ecological Relationships

G. hillebrandii has an unknown breeding system and is thought to be insect-pollinated. The seeds of G. hillebrandii are presumed to be wind dispersed (Sakai et al. 1995).

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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