March 18, 2009

Hawaiian Vine Named Endangered Species

An unusual Hawaiian vine has been deemed an endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported Tuesday

According to the Associated Press, President Obama has already classified another species as well as this one since the commencement of his administration.

The first was an amphibian indigenous to south Georgia, north Florida and coastal South Carolina, called the reticulated flatwoods salamander.  It was added to the endangered list last month. 

The Hawaiian plant is exclusively found on the island of Molokai, at altitudes 2,300 to 4,200 feet above sea level.  The sprawling branches of the green vine are loosely arranged in a tangled mass. 

The vine is known by its scientific name of Phyllostegia hispida.

The field supervisor for the agency's Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, Patrick Leonard, advocated, "It is our hope that it will come to the forefront of public attention along with Hawaii's other numerous endangered plants."

Evidence of only 10 individual plants was known between 1910 and 1996, according to the agency. 

The species was thought in 1997 to be extinct.  However, in 2005, two seedlings were located at the Nature Conservancy's Kamakou Preserve. 

Twenty-four wild plants have been discovered since 2007, totaling 238 plants known to currently exist.

Natural disasters such as hurricanes and outbreaks of disease pose a threat for complete wipe out of the small population of existing vines. 

An invasive species of wild pig, as well as competition of nonnative plants also cause concern for the plants ability to thrive. 

In effort to combat the species extinction, the Lyon Arboretum in Honolulu, Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokai, and other organizations have been busy growing specimens that may be utilized for planting in the wild, the agency said. 

Department of Natural Resources for the state has built fences in some areas to guard the plants from pigs and other indigenous wild animals. 

Hawaii, more than any other state, has 329 federally protected endangered species. 


On the Net: