CPC Plant Profile: Alula
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Plant Profile

Alula (Brighamia insignis)

Closeup of specimen in native habitat. Notice the succulent stem. Photo Credit: K. Wood ©
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Campanulaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 142536
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/10/1987

There are two threatened Brighamia species that are endemic to Hawaii (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] 2001). Current levels of wild seed production and regeneration are not thought to be sufficient enough to sustain wild populations. Poor seedling establishment due to competition with alien grasses is thought to be a contributing factor. The flower structure appears to favor outcrossing (pollination between different parent plants), however little pollination has been observed in wild populations. Some vegetative regeneration has been observed (USFWS 2000). The number of populations and individuals are rapidly declining. Historically wild populations have been lost from Ni`ihau and Kaua`i. In 2000, USFWS reported five populations totaling 45 to 65 individuals (USFWS 2000). In one year, only 20 individuals in four populations were recorded (USFWS 2001). This member of the bellflower family (Campanulaceae) is a potentially branched plant with a succulent stem that is bulbous at the bottom and tapers toward the top, ending in a compact rosette of fleshy leaves (USFWS 2000). It has clusters of fragrant yellow flowers in groups of three to eight in the leaf axils. Petals are fused into a tube 7 to 14 centimeters (3 to 6 in) long. The fruit is a capsule 13 to 19 millimeters (0.5 to 0.7 in) long, which contains numerous seeds. This short-lived perennial species is a member of a unique endemic Hawaiian genus with only one other species (USFWS 1995).

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Updates
Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to two areas on the island of Kauai (Napali and the Haupu Range), and Niihau. It is currently known only from Kauai, with approximately 60-70 plants remaining. Major threats to surviving individuals include predation and habitat degradation by feral goats and competition with alien plants species. This species is also vulnerable to disturbance by hikers, fire, and spider mite infestations.

  • 01/01/2010

Threats to B. insignis include browsing and habitat degradation by feral goats, human disturbance, fire, and the exotic Carmine spider mite (Tetranychus cinnabarinus), which has been observed as leaf herbivores. Competition from invasive introduced plant

  • 01/01/2010

Number of Populations: 4 (USFWS 2001) Number of Plants: 20 (USFWS 2001)

  • 01/01/2010

The seeds of B. insignis have been tested by the Center for Conservation Research and Training (CCRT) and the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), finding that they are orthodox and can tolerate freezing and drying. The laboratory germination time was one to two weeks (Yoshinaga 2002).

  • 01/01/2010

NTBG currently has ex situ holdings of numerous seeds in its seed bank, which represents all four populations. In addition, there are plants that represent three populations growing in the nursery and 230 individuals representing two populations in the grounds of the Limahuli Botanic Garden and Preserve. The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DLNR, DOFAW) (Kauai District) outplanted 20 individuals of B. insignis at Kalepa and Nounou Forest reserve (USFWS 1995). There are plants in cultivation at Kilauea Lighthouse. Further reintroductions are planned.

  • 01/01/2010

1. Wild populations of B. insignis need to be located and monitored. 2. Assess status of genetic diversity of B. insignis in the wild and cultivated populations. 3. Trial reintroduction studies need to be undertaken on secure sites for B. insignis. 4. Test the influence of weeding and fencing on populations of B. insignis. 5. Conduct pollination biology and seed dispersal mechanism studies. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, and USFWS (1995).

  • 01/01/2010

1. Establish secure ex situ stock with full founder representation. 2. Develop proper horticultural protocols and pest management for B. insignis. 3. Maintain the genetic stock of ex situ plants. 4. Survey ex situ holdings and conduct molecular fingerprinting. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, and USFWS (1995).

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Nomenclature
Taxon Brighamia insignis
Authority A. Gray
Family Campanulaceae
CPC Number 630
ITIS 34622
USDA BRIN4
Common Names Alula | 'Olulu | Pu Aupaka | Cabbage on a Stick
Associated Scientific Names Brighamia citrina | Brighamia citrina var. napaliensis | Brighamia insignis | Brighamia insignis f. citrina
Distribution B. insignis was historically known on Ni`ihau and Kauai from the headland between Honolulu and Waiahuakua Valleys along the Na Pali Coast, and from Kaali Spring on the island of Niihau. Currently, B.
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1
Habitat

B. insignis is found from sea level to 480 meters (1,575 ft) elevation on rocky ledges with little soil or on steep sea cliffs. They are found in lowland dry grasslands or shrublands with annual rainfall usually less than 170 centimeters (65 in.) (USFWS 2000). Associated species with B. insignis include Artemisia sp. (ahinahina), Chamaesyce celastroides (akoko), Canthium odoratum (alahee), Eragrostis variabilis (kawelu), Heteropogon contortus (pili grass), Hibiscus kokio (kokio), Hibiscus saintjohnianus (kokio), Lepidium serra (anaunau), Lipochaeta succulenta (nehe), Munroidendron racemosum (no common name [NCN]), and Sida fallax (ilima).

Ecological Relationships

B. insignis is thought to be pollinated by native sphingid moths (Sphingidae family); however, pollination failure is common. This may be due to either a lack of pollinators or problems with breeding systems (e.g. self-incompatibility). Flower and leaf size seems to be influenced by moisture availability (USFWS 1995).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees
Bees Confirmed Pollinator Link
Butterflies & Moths
Sphinx moths Hawk moth Confirmed Pollinator Link
Large, long-tongued moth Confirmed Pollinator Link
Moths Confirmed Pollinator Link

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