CPC Plant Profile: Hawai`i Pritchardia
Search / Plant Profile / Pritchardia maideniana
Plant Profile

Hawai`i Pritchardia (Pritchardia maideniana)

View of mature specimen. Note the growing habit of the fan-shaped leaves. Photo Credit: Peter Van Dyke
Description
  • Global Rank: GH - Possibly Extinct
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Arecaceae
  • State: HI
  • Nature Serve ID: 142376
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/05/1993

A fine-looking, long-lived palm at 10-25 m (33-82 ft) tall, P. affinis is often used as a landscape specimen on the west side of Hawai'i Island. It is one of 19 native species of the fan palm genus Pritchardia, distinguished by undulating, pale green and often yellowing blades and almost round black fruits 2-3 cm in diameter. The leaf blades were used for thatching in old Hawai'i, the wood for spears, and the seeds were eaten. In the 19th century, people began making hats from the blades, and old trees are often marked with foot holds cut into the trunks to make harvesting the leaves easier. Many of the remaining individuals of the extremely rare species are located in areas that are highly valued for development. Loulu is endemic to South Kona and is now only found on the island of Hawaii where native people likely planted them. This species is known to have come to the island at least 40,000 years ago probably by the rafting of entire individuals across the ocean. It is thought that these palms grew in extensive groves surrounding many of Hawaiis islands before the Polynesians brought the pig and the Polynesian rat. In 1970 a horticulturalist, Norman Bezona, was hired by a resort developer to provide plants for landscaping. Mr. Bezona chose to utilize native species for the project and began a massive cultivation project to produce Loulus for use at the resort. He collected 4,000 seeds, sent half of them to Fairchild Tropical Garden in Florida and began germinate the remaining seeds. These plants were then transplanted near the Black Sand Beach of Kau. (Bezona 1974)

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/23/2020
  • Propagation Research

At Amy Greenwell Garden, fruit are collected from garden-grown plants and seeds are propagated to produce plants for restoration and replanting. P. affinis grows readily from seed, but seeds are not known to store well (Melany Chapin, pers. com. 2000)

  • 09/23/2020
  • Seed Collection

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

  • 09/23/2020
  • Reintroduction

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. 2001)

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to the island of Hawaii. This species is usually found at inhabited or abandoned Hawaiian coastal settlements, and less frequently inland. It appears that most, if not all, of these trees are remnants of Hawaiian plantings, and are not naturally occurring. These remaining trees are threatened by rats that are known to eat Pritchardia fruits, and by coastal development.

Peter Van Dyke
  • 01/01/2010

As stated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS 1994 & 1996), threats include: Animals: Rats eat fruits and seeds. Feral pigs rood and destroy seedlings Weeds: The remaining trees are found in degraded habitats dominated by non-native pla

Peter Van Dyke
  • 01/01/2010

Seven populations containing 50-65 individuals total are known in the wild. These plants are located on both private and state owned land. (Breugmann 1997 and USFWS 1994) However, since this species is easily cultivated, and may even have been cultivated in traditional Hawai'i, it is difficult to distinguish remnants of truly wild populations from cultivated plants.

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. P. affinis grows readily from seed, but seeds are not known to store well (Melany Chapin, pers. com. 2000)

Peter Van Dyke
  • 01/01/2010

Many old trees are found on private property, in yards and gardens, some neglected, others being watered and cared for. 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. 2001)

Peter Van Dyke
  • 01/01/2010

Fencing, fire breaks, and rat control are needed for unprotected plants. Efforts to prevent the spread of lethal yellow to Hawai'i must be developed and continued.

Peter Van Dyke
  • 01/01/2010

Propagation and maintenance of ex situ plants should continue. More research is needed on long term seed storage techniques.

MORE

Be the first to post an update!

Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Pritchardia maideniana
Authority Becc.
Family Arecaceae
CPC Number 9744
ITIS 817240
USDA PRMA15
Common Names Hawaiian fan palm | loulu
Associated Scientific Names Pritchardia affinis | Pritchardia maideniana | Pritchardia affinis var. gracilis | Pritchardia affinis var. halophila | Pritchardia affinis var. rhopalocarpa
Distribution Kohala mountains, southeastern and western coasts of Hawai'i Island. (Wagner et al. 1999)
State Rank
State State Rank
Hawaii SH
Habitat

The species' natural habitat is unknown. It likely was cultivated by Hawaiians prior to western contact, and it is still planted today. This species is currently found on the leeward side of the Island of Hawaii in inhabited or abandoned Hawaiian coastal settlements and occasionally inland mesic gulches at 0-600 m (0-2000 ft) in elevation. (Wagner et al. 1999, USFWS 1994, and NatureServe Explorer 2002)

Ecological Relationships

According to pollen cores from before 1210 B.C. to 1565 A.D., Pritchardia sp. may once have been codominant in certain lowland forests, along with Kanaloa kahoolawensis and Dodonaea viscosa., at which point K. kahoolawensis disappeared from the pollen record and D. viscosa and Pritchardia sp. declined dramatically (USFWS 1999). Now most P. affinis individuals grow in non-native dominated plant communities.

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