The only known wild tree of this species was discovered in 1911 within what is now Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii. The tree died in 1930. Its descendents remain in cultivation and some of these have been planted out at the site of the original wild tree. The site was grazed by cattle in the early 1900's. Current threats to the outplanted population are feral pigs, alien plants, and potential volcanic activity.
Threats to H. giffardianus include:
predation by rats
leaf damage by Sophonia rufofacia (two spotted leaf hopper)and yellowing by the native bug Hylalopeplus pellucidus
competition from alien grasses and habitat changes from volcanic activity
Number of Populations: 0 (USFWS 2001)
Number of Plants: 9 in cultivation (USFWS 2001) 16 recorded in 1997 (USFWS 1998)
In the 1970's, a number of individuals studied the effects of hybridization between this species the closely related, also endangered, Hibiscadelphus hualalaiensis. (Baker & Allen 1976, Baker & Allen 1977, Carr & Baker 1977, Degener & Degener 1977) These two species did not naturally occur together, but had been planted near each other in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park during early conservation efforts. It was eventually determined that this situation resulted in hybridization between the two species. The decision was made to remove H. hualalaiensis from the park in order to maintain the genetic integrity of both species. Today, both of these species are maintained in cultivated settings.
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park (HVNP) fenced the outplanted Kipukapuaulu population in the 1960s and weed control has been undertaken. There has also been some efforts made at rodent trapping.
HVNP has 5 plants in their nursery. Volcano Rare Plant Facility (VRPF) has 9 plants in their facility, and the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) has 2 plants.
NTBG currently has ex situ holdings of four plants that are growing in the grounds of the botanical garden.
1. Outplant new populations in areas of reduced threat. Prior to outplanting, the sites should be fenced, free of weeds and free of rats and feral ungulates. Before weeding and fencing are utilized, testing should be done on their effects.
2. Reduce threat from rodent predation especially around fenced populations and investigate the use of rodenticide.
3. Control insect damage especially for the two-spotted leafhopper. More research is needed on spraying, treatment, and other more suitable methods.
4. Conduct pollination biology and seed dispersal studies on H. giffardianus.
Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, USFWS (1998).
1. Establish secure ex situ stocks with full founder representation.
2. Develop proper horticultural protocols and pest management for H. giffardianus.
3. Survey ex situ holding and conduct molecular fingerprinting.
Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin and M. Maunder.
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