Molokai Jackbean / Center For Plant Conservation
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Molokai Jackbean (Canavalia molokaiensis)

Closeup of pot grown specimen showing the young twining shoots. Photo Credit: Jill Shimatsu
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 149056
  • Lifeform: Forb/herb, Vine
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 07/09/1992

Canavalia molokaiensis, member of the legume family (Fabaceae), is a short-lived, perennial climbing herb. It has twining branches with leaves made up of three lance (longer than wider)-shaped or sometimes oval leaflets (3.5 to 8 cm long, 1.3 to 5.4 cm wide) (USFWS 2000). The flowers have five rose-purple petals that vary from 37 to 47 millimeters in length. It has flattened pods 12 to 16 centimeters (5 to 6 in) long with dark reddish-brown oblong-elliptic seeds (17 to 22 mm long). C. molokaiensis flowers during May and December, fruits and flowers are observed in March.

Where is Molokai Jackbean (Canavalia molokaiensis) located in the wild?


C. molokaiensis typically grows in exposed sites, both dry and mesic, on steep slopes in Metrosideros polymorpha (ohia)-Dodonea viscosa (aalii) lowland shrubland and mesic shrublands. It is found between 850 and 930 meters (2,788 to 3,051 ft) elevation. Associated species of C. molokaiensis include Artemesia sp. (hinahina), Chamaesyce sp. (akoko), Coprosma sp. (pilo), Styphelia tameiameiae (pukiawe), and Wikstroemia sp. (akia).


C. molokaiensis is endemic to Molokai and was historically known from East Molokai from Kalaupapa, Pelekunu, farther south in Kahuaawi Gulch, and from the region of Manawai. It now has a more restrict

States & Provinces:

Molokai Jackbean can be found in Hawaii

Which CPC Partners conserve Molokai Jackbean (Canavalia molokaiensis)?

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

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to East Molokai. The total population estimate is about 500 plants. Extensive habitat degradation by feral ungulates poses an immediate threat to the sites where the species occurs. Competition with alien plants and possible predation by ungulates pose additional threats.

  • 01/01/2010

Threats to C. molokaiensis include habitat degradation by feral ungulates such as goats and pigs, browsing predation by feral goats, and competition with non-native plants, such as Melinis minutiflora (molasses grass) (USFWS 1996).

  • 01/01/2010

Number of Populations: 4 (USFWS 2001) Number of Plants: 200-500 (USFWS 2001)

  • 01/01/2010

C. molokaiensis seeds have been collected and propagated by the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG).

  • 01/01/2010

There are three preserves operated by the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii (TNCH) on the island of Molokai; Kamakou, Moomomi, and Pelekunu. TNCH has worked with state and local hunters to control feral pigs. Seeds and plants of C. molokaienesis have been collected by NTBG where they plan to research propagation methods and the feasibility of long-term seed storage. NTBG currently has ex situ holdings of 333 seeds in its seed bank, which represents all four populations. In addition, there are eight plants that represent one population growing in the botanical garden.

  • 01/01/2010

1. Implement recovery plans for C. molokaienesis. 2. A research program is recommended to study the growth and reproduction viability, determine the parameters of viable populations, study the reproductive strategy and pollinators, and study pests and possible diseases of C. molokaienesis. 3. Conduct pollination biology and seed dispersal studies. 4. Map genetic diversity in the surviving populations of C. molokaiensis. 5. Test the influence of weeding and fencing on populations of C. molokaiensis. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, and USFWS (1996).

  • 01/01/2010

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


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Taxon Canavalia molokaiensis
Authority O. Deg., I. Deg. & J.D. Sauer
Family Fabaceae
CPC Number 739
ITIS 501184
Duration Perennial
Common Names Awikiwiki | Molokai jackbean | `awikiwiki
Associated Scientific Names Canavalia molokaiensis | Canavalia peninsularis | Canavalia stenophylla
Distribution C. molokaiensis is endemic to Molokai and was historically known from East Molokai from Kalaupapa, Pelekunu, farther south in Kahuaawi Gulch, and from the region of Manawai. It now has a more restrict
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1
Ecological Relationships


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