CPC Plant Profile: Cliff-face Catchfly
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Plant Profile

Cliff-face Catchfly (Silene perlmanii)

Closeup of clump showing erect stems and narrowly elliptic leaves. Photo Credit: S. Perlman
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Caryophyllaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 151294
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 07/09/1992

There are three endangered Silene species endemic to Hawaii (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] 2001). This particular species, Silene perlmanii, was historically found in two populations on the island of Oahu, but has not been seen in the wild since 1997, and today exists only in cultivation at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. S. perlmanii, a member of the pink family (Caryophllaceae) is a clump forming sub shrub that forms its clumps with erect to ascending stems. The leaves of S. perlmanii are elliptic in shape (50 to 105 mm long, 7 to 16 mm wide) and glabrous in texture except for the upper surface of the leaf that is strigose (straight, stiff, sharp hairs) towards the base. The flowers of S. perlmanii have stamens that are extended beyond the calyx with white petals (8 to 10 mm long). This species is the only member of its genus found on the island of Oahu, and can be distinguished from other Silene species by its white petals and long calyx that is covered with short hairs. (Wagner et al. 1999) S. perlmanii usually flowers in the spring. The flowers of S. perlmanii lasts for just a day and the fruits develop in a few weeks (USFWS 1998).

Participating Institutions
Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

This species is endemic to the southern Waianae Mountains of Oahu, with only two wild plants now known. When the first population was discovered in 1987 it consisted of about 20 plants. That population has been reduced to a single plant. The species and its habitats are threatened by feral pigs and alien plant species.

  • 01/01/2010

Although no longer found in the wild, past threats to S. perlmanii included habitat degradation by alien plants (Schinus terebinthifolius [Christmas berry], Myrica faya [firetree], and Melinus minutiflora [molasses grass]) feral pigs. These threats are s

  • 01/01/2010

Number of Populations: 0 (USFWS 2001) Number of Plants: 20 (USFWS 2001)

  • 01/01/2010

S. perlmanii is being propagated at the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) and the Lyon Arboretum.

  • 01/01/2010

The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii (TNCH) has plans to construct a 90-acre fence that will include the site where S. perlmanii was last seen, this will be an ideal area to outplant individuals in the future (USFWS 1998). NTBG currently has ex situ holdings of an unknown amount of seeds in its seed bank, and 14 plants in the nursery which represent a single population.

  • 01/01/2010

1. Conduct surveys on S. perlmanii of their appropriate habitat in historical habitat in historical locations in the Waianae Mountain to determine if any extant populations of this species exist. 2. Maintain cultivated stock of S. perlmanii to prevent the extinction of this species. 3. Establish new populations within its historical range, in areas that are managed to minimize the impacts of feral ungulates and alien plants. 4. Conduct pollination biology studies. 5. Map genetic diversity in the surviving populations of S. perlmanii. 6. Test the influence of weeding and fencing on populations of S. perlmanii. Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, and USFWS (1998).

  • 01/01/2010

1. Establish secure ex situ stocks with full founder representation. 2. Develop proper horticultural and pest management protocols for S. perlmanii. Recommendations derived from M. Maunder.


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Taxon Silene perlmanii
Authority W.L. Wagner, D.R. Herbst & Sohmer
Family Caryophyllaceae
CPC Number 7604
ITIS 195408
Common Names Cliff-face Catchfly | cliffface catchfly
Associated Scientific Names Silene perlmanii
Distribution In the 1980s, S. perlmanii was discovered in two populations on federal and privately owned land of the southern Waianae Mountains (Oahu). As of 1997, no individuals are known in the wild (USFWS 1998)
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii S1

S. perlmanii was historically found on a cliff face in a diverse mesic forest, 790 meters elevation, on Oahu (Wagner et al. 1999).

Ecological Relationships

S. perlmanii is a hermaphrodite that is insect pollinated with seeds that are bird dispersed (Sakai et al. 1995).

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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