CPC Plant Profile: False 'Ohe
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Plant Profile

False 'Ohe (Polyscias racemosum)

Full view of a medium grown specimen. Notice the pinnate leaves. Photo Credit: D. Ragone
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Araliaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 138045
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 05/28/1986

Polyscias racemosum is an endangered speices endemic to Hawaii and a member of the ginseng family (Araliaceae). Prior to taxonomic realignment, this species was considered the only member of the monotypic genus, Munroidendron. P. racemosum is a small tree (25 ft. tall) with a straight gray trunk and spreading branches. Leaves are 12 inches long and made up of many oval leaflets. This tree bears small yellow flowers in clusters of 250 that hang from the tree in long, loose bunches. The genus is distinguished from other closely related Hawaiian genera of the family by these distinct flower clusters. White, egg-shaped fruits then form on these clusters. Reproduction of P. racemosum occurs year round, with flowers and fruits found throughout the year. Self-pollination is assumed to occur since isolated individuals have produced viable seeds. Pollinators have not been observed, but insect pollination is likely. Dispersal mechanisms are unknown (USFWS 1995).

Participating Institutions
Updates
Center for Plant Conservation
  • 08/19/2021
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

In 2021, CPC contracted National Tropical Botanical Garden to recollect seed from a population currently held in long term orthodox seed storage as part of an IMLS-funded seed longevity experiment. The National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation will evaluate how germination tested viability and RNA Integrity of seed lots decline over time in storage.

  • 10/14/2020
  • Genetic Research

The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) and the University of Hawaii are working on a study on M. racemosum population genetics (M. Maunder, pers. comm. 2002).

  • 10/14/2020
  • Propagation Research

The National Seed Storage Laboratory (NSSL) found inconclusive results after testing the seeds of M. racemosum. The seeds are probably not tolerant to freezing. The laboratory germination time was 6 months (Yoshinaga 2002).

  • 10/14/2020
  • Living Collection

In addition, there are 499 plants growing in the nursery, with additional F1 plants, and 312 individuals growing in the botanical garden that represent five out of the fifteen populations.

  • 10/14/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

NTBG currently has ex situ holdings in its seed bank, which represents two out of the fifteen populations.

  • 10/14/2020
  • Propagation Research

The Lyon Arboretum, NTBG, and the Waimea Arboretum have successfully propagated M. racemosum (USFWS 1995).

  • 10/14/2020
  • Propagation Research

The Lyon Arboretum, NTBG, and the Waimea Arboretum have successfully propagated M. racemosum (USFWS 1995).

  • 10/14/2020
  • Propagation Research

The Lyon Arboretum, NTBG, and the Waimea Arboretum have successfully propagated M. racemosum (USFWS 1995).

  • 10/14/2020
  • Reintroduction

The Kauai District, Department of Land and Natural Resource, and the Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DLNR, DOFAW) outplanted approximately 400 individuals at Kauhao Ridge, and additional outplanting is planned. Other outplanting sites include: Sleeping Giant, DLNR Kalalau Exclosure, and Houpu.

  • 10/14/2020
  • Cryo

Investigations are ongoing, but this taxon was one of the first to be assessed as a candidate for cryopreservation using liquid nitrogen, which rapidly freezes marginally desiccated seed to achieve the glassy state before being transferred to a -80°C freezer (CPC November 2017 Newsletter).

  • 10/14/2020
  • Seed Collection

In 2016-2017, National Tropical Botanic Garden was able to collect M. racemosum seed from their McBryde Garden to be used in seed storage behavior and dormancy experiments as well as strengthen our ex situ banked collection.

Katherine Heineman
  • 11/16/2017

In 2016-2017, National Tropical Botanic Garden was able to collect M. racemosum seed from their McBryde Garden to be used in seed storage behavior and dormancy experiments as well as strengthen our ex situ banked collection. Investigations are ongoing, but this taxon was one of the first to be assessed as a candidate for cryopreservation using liquid nitrogen, which rapidly freezes marginally desiccated seed to achieve the glassy state before being transferred to a -80°C freezer (CPC November 2017 Newsletter).

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to the island of Kauai. It is estimated that about 200 individuals remain. The major threats to this species are competition from alien plants, habitat degradation by feral goats and pigs, and fire.

  • 01/01/2010

Threats to M. racemosum include competition with alien plant species, such as Aleurites moluccana (kukui), Psidium guajava (guava), Lantana camara (lantana), and Leucaena leucocephala (koa haole). Other threats include habitat degradation by feral goa

  • 01/01/2010

Number of Populations: 15 (USFWS 2001) Number of Plants: 200 (USFWS 2001)

  • 01/01/2010

The National Seed Storage Laboratory (NSSL) found inconclusive results after testing the seeds of M. racemosum. The seeds are probably not tolerant to freezing. The laboratory germination time was 6 months (Yoshinaga 2002). The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) and the University of Hawaii are working on a study on M. racemosum population genetics (M. Maunder, pers. comm. 2002).

  • 01/01/2010

The Kauai District, Department of Land and Natural Resource, and the Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DLNR, DOFAW) outplanted approximately 400 individuals at Kauhao Ridge, and additional outplanting is planned. Other outplanting sites include: Sleeping Giant, DLNR Kalalau Exclosure, and Houpu. The Lyon Arboretum, NTBG, and the Waimea Arboretum have successfully propagated M. racemosum (USFWS 1995). NTBG currently has ex situ holdings in its seed bank, which represents two out of the fifteen populations. In addition, there are 499 plants growing in the nursery, with additional F1 plants, and 312 individuals growing in the botanical garden that represent five out of the fifteen populations.

  • 01/01/2010

1. Fence and manage surviving wild populations of M. racemosum. 2. Test the influence of weeding and fencing on populations of M. racemosum. 3. Conduct pollination biology genetics and seed dispersal studies. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin and M. Maunder.

  • 01/01/2010

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

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Polyscias racemosum
Authority (C.N. Forbes) Lowry & G.M. Plunkett
Family Araliaceae
CPC Number 2906
ITIS 822352
USDA MURA3
Common Names False 'Ohe
Associated Scientific Names Polyscias racemosa | Munroidendron racemosum | Munroidendron racemosum var. macdanielsii | Munroidendron racemosum var. forbesii
Distribution M. racemosum is endemic to Kauai and was historically known from scattered locations throughout the island. Populations are now known from the Na Pali Coast within Na Pali Coast State Park and Hono O
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1
Habitat

M. racemosum is typically found on steep exposed cliffs or on ridge slopes in coastal to lowland mesic forests between 120 and 400 meters (395 and 1,310 ft) elevation (USFWS 2000). Associated species of M. racemosum include Pisonia umbellifera (papala kepau), Canavalia galeata (awikiwiki), Sida fallax (ilima), Brighamia insignis (alula), Canthium odoratum (alahee), Psychotria sp. (kopiko), Nestegis sandwicensis (olopua), Bobea timonioides (ahakea), Pleomele sp. (hala pepe), and Pouteria sandwicensis (alaa).

Ecological Relationships

M. racemosum is a hermaphrodite and is believed to be insect-pollinated. Its seeds are presumed to be bird dispersed (Sakai et al. 1995).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Butterflies & Moths
Moth Confirmed Pollinator Link
Flies
Fly Confirmed Pollinator Link
Other
insects Suspected Pollinator Floral Link

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