Wahine Noho Kula / Center For Plant Conservation
Search / Plant Profile / Isodendrion pyrifolium
Plant Profile

Wahine Noho Kula (Isodendrion pyrifolium)

Young pot grown specimen. Photo Credit: Jill Shimatsu
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Violaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 145444
  • Lifeform: Shrub
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 07/09/1992

Isodendrion pyrifolium, or Wahine nono kula, was presumed extinct for over 100 years, until 1991, when four plants were found on State-owned land on the island of Hawaii. This land was being developed for residential housing and a golf course. Further searches of the site added an additional 50 to 60 plants to the known population, but due to pressure from residential and recreational development, as well as invasive species, there are now only 15 plants at this site. (USFWS 1994, 2001) I. pyrifolium, a member of the violet family (Violaceae) is a small, branched shrub (0.8 to 2 meters tall) with pubescent branches. The leaves are papery in texture and elliptic in shape, much like the leaves of the unrelated pear tree. Fragrant flowers are bilaterally symmetrical with five green-yellow petals that are somewhat unequally (10 to 15 millimeters long) long and lobed. The upper being the shortest and the lower being the longest. The fruit is a three-lobed capsule, 12 millimeters long with seeds that are olive with a dark spot near the middle. During drought periods, I. pyrifolium will drop all but its newest leaves. After sufficient rains, the plants produce sweet-scented flowers, with seeds ripening one to two months later.

Where is Wahine Noho Kula (Isodendrion pyrifolium) located in the wild?


I. pyrifolium is found in dry to mesic forests in elevations ranging from 82 to 300 meters (270 to 1000 ft.) (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] 1996). Associated species of I. pyrifolium include Canthium odoratum (alahee), Sida fallax (ilima), Santalum (sandalwood, iliahi), Myoporum sandwicense (naio), Sophora chrysophylla (mamane), and Waltheria indica L. (uhaloa) (USFWS 2002).


I. pyrifolium formerly occurred on the islands of Niihau, Molokai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, and Hawaii (Maui, reported by Hillebrand) (Wagner et. al., 1990). Today, just one population exists on Hawaii (

States & Provinces:

Wahine Noho Kula can be found in Hawaii

Which CPC Partners conserve Wahine Noho Kula (Isodendrion pyrifolium)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

This species was rediscovered in the early 1990's after not being seen since the 1800's. It was rediscovered at a location in North Kona on the island of Hawaii. Historically, the species was also found on the islands of Niihau, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Lanai. The currently known plants number about 60 or 70, and are very localized in an area that is being developed for housing. Other threats include fire and alien plants.

  • 01/01/2010

Threats to I. pyrifolium include: the conversion of this species natural habitat to residential and recreational developments the presence of the invasive fountain grass, Pennisetum setaceum competition from other alien plants such as Leucaena leuco

  • 01/01/2010

Number of Populations: 1 (USFWS 2001) Number of Plants: 15 (USFWS 2001)

  • 01/01/2010

The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) has propagated I. pyrifolium. The Lyon Arboretum has attempted to grow I. pyrifolium from immature seed but has not had success. Since the development of subdivisions is threatening I. pyrifolium, there are plans to fence the remaining individuals (USFWS 1996).

  • 01/01/2010

NTBG currently has ex situ holdings of 19 seeds in its seed bank, which are F1 seeds (progeny from cultivated stock in NTBG living collections, open pollinated but no congeners to hybridize with) from the single population. In addition, there are some plants growing in the nursery and four plants in grounds of the botanical garden derived from the single population. In 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. Fence and manage the remaining population. 2. Propagation and maintenance of ex situ genetic stock is needed. 3. Control the fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) and koa haole (Leucaena leucocephala) around the wild population of I. pyrifolium. 4. Propagation and outplanting of ex situ plants will be needed in order to establish a sufficient number of populations and plants for recovery. 5. Efforts should be made to re-establish populations on Oahu and Maui. 6. Map the genetic diversity in the surviving populations of I. pyrifolium. 7. Conduct pollination biology and reproductive studies on I. pyrifolium. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, and USFWS (1996).

  • 01/01/2010

1. Establish secure ex situ stocks with full founder representation. 2. Develop proper horticultural protocols and pest management for I. pyrifolium. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin and M. Maunder.


Be the first to post an update!

Taxon Isodendrion pyrifolium
Authority A. Gray
Family Violaceae
CPC Number 2336
ITIS 22204
Duration Perennial
Common Names aupaka | wahine nono kula | Kula wahine noho | wahine noho kula
Associated Scientific Names Isodendrion pyrifolium | Isodendrion hawaiiense | Isodendrion hillebrandii | Isodendrion lanaiense | Isodendrion mokokaiense | Isodendrion remyi
Distribution I. pyrifolium formerly occurred on the islands of Niihau, Molokai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, and Hawaii (Maui, reported by Hillebrand) (Wagner et. al., 1990). Today, just one population exists on Hawaii (
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1
Ecological Relationships


Donate to CPC to Save this Species

CPC secures rare plants for future generations by coordinating on-the-ground conservation and training the next generation of plant conservation professionals. Donate today to help save rare plants from extinction.

Donate Today