Superb Cyanea / Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

Superb Cyanea (Cyanea superba ssp. superba)

Shaded view of tree with cluster of oblanceolate leaves in forest environment. Photo Credit: Nellie Sugii
  • Global Rank: T1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Campanulaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 132898
  • Lifeform: Tree
  • Date Inducted in National Collection:

Cyanea superba is a palm-like tree sometimes reaching 20 feet in height that is crowned by a tight rosette of leaves. It bears numerous white and cream-colored flowers on pendant inflorescences that hang up to a foot below its leaves. This species is most severely threatened by habitat degradation caused by introduced animals and competition with more aggressive exotic plants. In 1996, Cyanea superba was known from 2 small populations on Federal and State land, consisting of a total of 10 plants. By 1998, all 5 plants on State land had died and only the 5 plants on Federal land remained. In just 3 years, 4 out of the 5 remaining wild individuals have died and now only a single remaining wild plant of Cyanea superba is left. In 2000, this remaining plant flowered and fruited for the first time and seed was collected for in vitro propagation.

Where is Superb Cyanea (Cyanea superba ssp. superba) located in the wild?


Cyanea superba grows in the understory on sloping terrain on well drained, rocky substrate.


This tree is found on the Makua Military Reservation in the Wai`anae Mountains, O`ahu.

States & Provinces:

Superb Cyanea can be found in Hawaii

Which CPC Partners conserve Superb Cyanea (Cyanea superba ssp. superba)?

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

Center for Plant Conservation
  • 12/02/2021
  • Reintroduction

Matthew Keir, working with DOD/PCSU, has reintroduced 483 plants into sites on Army and adjacent State of Hawaii lands.

  • 09/09/2020
  • Propagation Research


  • 09/09/2020
  • Propagation Research


  • 09/09/2020
  • Propagation Research


Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to the northern Waianae Mountains of Oahu. This taxon has been recorded from only a handful of sites. More than 60 plants in two populations were known in the 1970's. The taxon is now down to only one population containing about 5 plants. The major threats to the plant and its habitats are alien plants, feral pigs and fire.

Nellie Sugii
  • 01/01/2010

Habitat degradation Exotic plant competition Feral pig grazing Invertebrates Military impact Rat predation (USFWS 1998, 2001)

Nellie Sugii
  • 01/01/2010

1 site 1 population 1 individual (Pers. comm. Kapua Kawelo 2001)

Nellie Sugii
  • 01/01/2010

Propagation (Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, DOFAW-Pahole Mid-elevation Nursery, National Tropical Botanical Garden) (USFWS 1998)

Nellie Sugii
  • 01/01/2010

Enclosures (U.S. Army) Weed control (U.S. Army) Rat control (U.S. Army) Intensive monitoring (U.S. Army) Feral control (U.S. Army) Invertebrate control (U.S. Army) Outplanting (U.S. Army, DOFAW-Pahole Mid-elevation Nursery) (USFWS 1998) and (Pers. Comm. Kapua Kawelo 2001)

Nellie Sugii
  • 01/01/2010

Increase in propagation production Outplanting Fire protection (Pers. Comm. Kapua Kawelo 2001) and (USFWS 1998)

Nellie Sugii
  • 01/01/2010

Genetic study Seed banking Germplasm storage Biology and physiology study Propagation improvement (USFWS 1998)


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Taxon Cyanea superba ssp. superba
Authority (Cham.) A. Gray
Family Campanulaceae
CPC Number 6224
ITIS 523932
Duration Perennial
Common Names Haha | Mt. Kaala cyanea
Associated Scientific Names Cyanea superba var. velutina | Cyanea superba ssp. superba | Cyanea superba
Distribution This tree is found on the Makua Military Reservation in the Wai`anae Mountains, O`ahu.
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1
Ecological Relationships

Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting
Oahu Army Natural Resources Program Hawaii Reintroduction 1999
Oahu Army Natural Resources Program Hawaii Reintroduction 2009
Oahu Army Natural Resources Program Hawaii Reintroduction 2013

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