CPC Plant Profile: Small-flowered Nothocestrum
Search / Plant Profile / Nothocestrum breviflorum
Plant Profile

Small-flowered Nothocestrum (Nothocestrum breviflorum)

Full view of young tree. Note the typical fastigiate habit. Photo Credit: Peter Van Dyke
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Solanaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 152263
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/25/1988

These stout trees (10-12 m) were called by the famous early 20th century botanist Joseph Rock "the most ugly trees which the Hawaiian Islands possess (Rock 1974: 421)." The trunk is knobby, and the branches sometimes bare altogether, as the tree is seasonally deciduous. The thick, papery leaves, when present, are clustered at the ends of drooping branches. The berries are yellow orange, like tiny tomatoes. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this tree proves the case. Its small, yellow green tubular flowers, scented as sweet as jasmine, are so fragrant that you can often smell the tree before you see it in the rugged, dry, landscape of Hawai'i Island.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/19/2020
  • Propagation Research

At Amy Greenwell Garden, fruit are collected from garden grown plants and seeds are propagated to produce plants for restoration and replanting

  • 09/19/2020
  • Living Collection

At Amy Greenwell Garden, fruit are collected from garden grown plants and seeds are propagated to produce plants for restoration and replanting

  • 09/19/2020
  • Reintroduction

Additionally, numerous native understory plants have been planted. (USFWS 2002)Plants are being restored to areas within their former range at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park as part of a larger habitat restoration project. (Tom Belfield, pers. com.)

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to the island of Hawaii. The number of extant individuals is uncertain, but there may be several hundred. The species has been negatively impacted by agriculture, introduced ungulates, alien plants, and fire.

Peter Van Dyke
  • 01/01/2010

As stated by Bruegmann (1997) and USFWS (1994), threats to this species include: Animals. Pigs eat fruit and foliage and disturb the ground in the area around the trees. Goats and cattle browse the foliage, break branches, and trample seedlings. Catt

Peter Van Dyke
  • 01/01/2010

In 1997 there were 10 known populations containing 60 individuals total. (Bruegmann 1997)

Peter Van Dyke
  • 01/01/2010

At Amy Greenwell Garden, fruit are collected from garden grown plants and seeds are propagated to produce plants for restoration and replanting. Hawai'i Island botanist Lyman Perry (DOFAW) recently mapped the locations of N. breviflorum on state land. This information is going to a USFWS entomologist who is studying the endangered Blackburn's Sphinx Moth, which lays its eggs on N. breviflorum. The distribution of N. breviflorum may be important in determining critical habitat for the endangered moth. (Lyman Perry, pers. com.)

Peter Van Dyke
  • 01/01/2010

Most of the remaining individuals are located on State owned land leased to cattle ranchers and not protected from animals or fire. This species occurs naturally on a privately-owned site. A cattle fence has been in place here since 1950, and the site has been actively managed since 1996. At this site, management has actively removed the invasive grass, Pennisetum setaceum, thus reducing wildfire risk in the area, and has also actively removed goats, feral hogs, stray cattle, and controlled the rodent population. Additionally, numerous native understory plants have been planted. (USFWS 2002) Plants are being restored to areas within their former range at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park as part of a larger habitat restoration project. (Tom Belfield, pers. com.)

Peter Van Dyke
  • 01/01/2010

In the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawaii (1999:1262-3), Symon writes of the genus Nothocestrum ""Its cytology, chemistry, and reproductive biology are largely unknown and clearly much work needs to be done."" Fencing, fire breaks, and rat control are needed for unprotected plants. More research on long term seed storage techniques are needed.

Peter Van Dyke
  • 01/01/2010

Propagation and maintenance of ex situ genetic stock (USFWS 1996) Seeds in long term storage (USFWS 1996)

MORE

Be the first to post an update!

Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Nothocestrum breviflorum
Authority A. Gray
Family Solanaceae
CPC Number 2962
ITIS 503963
USDA NOBR2
Common Names Aiea | hlena | small-flowered nothocestrum | smallflower aiea
Associated Scientific Names Nothocestrum breviflorum | Nothocestrum breviflorum var. longipes | Nothocestrum brevifolium var. rupilosum | Nothocestrum brevifolium
Distribution The 10 remaining populations can be found throughout much of the species' historic range. This includes populations near Waimea, Kiholo, in Puu Waawaa, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Kipuka Ki and
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1
Habitat

This species can be found at elevations of 590-6000 ft (180-1830 m) and typically grows in koa- and ohia- or Iama-dominated lowland dry forests and montane dry or mesic forests. (USFWS 1994)Associated species include Caesalpinia kavaiensis (uhiuhi), and Erythrina sandwicensis. (USFWS 1994)

Ecological Relationships

Trees in the Nothocestrum genus are hosts for Blackburn's sphinx moth (Manduca blackburni), Hawaii's largest native insect and a federally listed endangered species. Moths lay their eggs on the host and larvae eat leaves, stems, flowers, and buds. (USFWS 2000). These endangered moths may also serve as pollinators for trees in this genus, as they have tongues suited to extracting nectar from tubular flowers such as those of Nothocestrum (Frank Howarth, pers. com.). Nothocestrum breviflorum has been found to be a host for this moth on the island of Hawai'i.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

Donate to CPC to Save this Species

Fall fundraising drive has begun! We're looking for 2,500 people to protect our planet. With you by our side, we will build a future where people live in harmony with nature. Come help and become a CPC donor today.

Donate Today