Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hawaiian orchids

Did you know that there are only three species of orchids endemic to the Hawaiian Islands?

"The native flora of Hawaii includes three species of orchids, but these are so obscure that two types did not even score a Hawaiian name. The Orchid Center of the World, with its ideal climate, never developed a significant orchid population of its own." (Read an interesting article about the history and role of orchids in Hawaii, today a 25 million dollar industry.)

The first native Hawaiian orchid is Liparis hawaiensis, or twayblade, a tiny green-flowered species. Liparis is usually found in the high rain forests under a tree canopy from 2,000 and 5,000 feet. It blooms throughout the year, mostly from May through November.

The second native Hawaiian orchid is the jewel orchid, or Anoectochilus sandvicensis. Found on all the major Hawaiian islands (except perhaps Lana'i) this is the most common of the three orchids. The jewel orchid can found in the high rain forests, usually between 1,000 and 5,000 feet, and it blooms throughout the year, mostly from August through December.

The third orchid is Platanthera holochila, or fringed orchid. Apparently it is extremely rare and is on the Endangered Species list. It has infrequently been sighted on the islands of Maui, Kau'i and Moloka'i. It has not been seen on the island of O'ahu in 60 years and has never been recorded on the Big Island.


At 8:41 p.m., Blogger R2K said...

That is interesting, only three...

I would have guessed that there would be many more.

But rates of endemism in Hawaii are high for other plants right?


At 3:52 a.m., Blogger bot said...


At 6:22 a.m., Blogger michelle said...


At 10:18 a.m., Blogger jenn@WCOE said...

I have read that the Hawaiian islands do have a high rate of endemism, as they are so isloated from any major land masses. To explain the lack of orchids, they probably have a good representation of all the different plant families, rather than large numbers of plants from fewer families. Here in Coastal British Columbia we have a lot of species in our rainforests but they represent only a few of the majoy plant families.

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