CPC Plant Profile: Cooke's Koki`o
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Plant Profile

Cooke's Koki`o (Kokia cookei)

This shot shows the short-lived red flower among the leaves. Photo Credit: Waimea
Description
  • Global Rank: GH - Possibly Extinct
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 153974
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/10/1987

Kokia cookei is considered one of the rarest and most endangered plant species in the world. It was discovered in the 1860's on the western end of Moloka`i by Mr. R. Meyer. This find consisted of 3 tress, which were not relocated on subsequent visits a few years later. In 1910, a single living tree was discovered within the general area of the initial sighting and may in fact, have been one of the original trees. In 1915, this last remaining wild specimen was found in extremely poor condition though a few seeds were found and collected. Kokia cookei became extirpated from the wild in 1918. Seeds from this collection produced only one seedling that survived past 1933. This one remaining seedling was planted at a Kauluwai residence on Moloka`i, and produced over 130 seedlings though none of these plants have persisted. In the late 1950's, the single plant at Kauluwai, Moloka`i died and it was presumed extinct. In 1970, a single plant of the species was discovered at the Moloka`i residence, probably a surviving relict of the previous cultivated plant. But in 1978, a fire destroyed the last remaining rooted plant of Kokia cookei. Fortunately, before it was destroyed, a branch was removed and later grafted onto a related species at the Waimea Arboretum. Currently, Kokia cookei exists as approximately 23 grafted plants (CPC 2013).

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Updates
  • 09/18/2020
  • Seed Collection

Propagation attempts through seeds, cuttings, grafting, air layering and tissue culture continue (USFWS 1998).

  • 09/18/2020
  • Living Collection

Kokia cookei is extinct in the wild. Currently, the species exists as 23 grafted plants in 5 different locations on the islands of Maui, Molokai, Hawaii and Oahu. Seven individuals are in cultivation in facilities on the islands of Maui and O`ahu. One individual is located at a private residence on the island of Hawai`i. The remaining 15 individuals are in small outplanting sites on Moloka`i Ranch lands, at Puu Nana (USFWS 1998) and (Woolliams and Gerum 1992).

  • 09/18/2020
  • Tissue Culture

Propagation attempts through seeds, cuttings, grafting, air layering and tissue culture continue (USFWS 1998).

  • 09/18/2020
  • Propagation Research

Propagation attempts through seeds, cuttings, grafting, air layering and tissue culture continue (USFWS 1998).

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

This species has been found only on the western mountain mass of the island of Molokai. The last wild tree died in the early 1900's. Since then the species has been maintained in cultivation. A few plants have been outplanted within the species' former range. Western Molokai has been grazed by cattle for the last hundred years or more, and little remains of the original forests.

David Orr
  • 01/01/2010

Exotic invasive plants Heavy grazing from goats, deer, sheep and cattle Habitat conversion as a result of agricultural practices Seed predation Low number of individuals and populations Lack of naturally rooted plants Lack of viable seed production

David Orr
  • 01/01/2010

Kokia cookei is extinct in the wild. Currently, the species exists as 23 grafted plants in 5 different locations on the islands of Maui, Molokai, Hawaii and Oahu. Seven individuals are in cultivation in facilities on the islands of Maui and O`ahu. One individual is located at a private residence on the island of Hawai`i. The remaining 15 individuals are in small outplanting sites on Moloka`i Ranch lands, at Puu Nana (USFWS 1998) and (Woolliams and Gerum 1992).

David Orr
  • 01/01/2010

Propagation attempts through seeds, cuttings, grafting, air layering and tissue culture continue (USFWS 1998).

David Orr
  • 01/01/2010

2 fenced outplanting sites on west Moloka`i (USFWS 1998) and (Woolliams and Gerum 1992).

David Orr
  • 01/01/2010

Identify more outplanting sites and establish field populations which possess natural reproductive capabilities Monitoring and field work on existing outplanting sites Mitigate or eliminate all threats (USFWS 1998)

David Orr
  • 01/01/2010

Genetic studies Physiological studies Propagation-increase the number of individuals Establish and manage ex situ plantings in botanical gardens. (USFWS 1998)

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Kokia cookei
Authority O. Degener
Family Malvaceae
CPC Number 2385
ITIS 21975
USDA KOCO2
Common Names Cooke Kokio | Cooke's Kokio | Hau Hele`ula | Hawaiian Treecotton | Koki`o | Molokai Koki`o | Molokai Red Cotton | Molokai treecotton
Associated Scientific Names Kokia cookei
Distribution The full natural range of Kokia cookei cannot be determined due to the near complete loss of native, dryland forest on Moloka`i. Now only found in cultivation (USFWS 1998).
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii SX
Habitat

The only historic habitat is dryland forest on the western (leeward) end of Molokai near Mahana, northeast of Puu Nana at approximately 200 meters (660 feet) elevation (Wagner et al. 1999) and (USFWS 1998).

Ecological Relationships

Prior to the arrival of Polynesians around 400 A.D., nectar-feeding passerine birds were apparently common in lowland dryland forest areas of the Hawaiian Islands (James and Olson 1991). After the arrival of Polynesians, and followed by Europeans in the late 1700s , native nectar-feeding birds were extirpated from dryland forest. Kokia cookei is apparently adapted to bird pollination. The loss of native nectar-feeding birds may have contributed to the decline of the species (USFWS 1998).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees
Honey bees Apis mellifera Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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