CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Caesalpinia kavaiensis

Photographer:
Jill Shimatsu

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Caesalpinia kavaiensis


Family: 
Fabaceae  
Common Names: 
kawa'u, kea, uhiuhi
Author: 
H. Mann
Growth Habit: 
Tree, Shrub
CPC Number: 
8653

Distribution
Protection
Conservation
References


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Caesalpinia kavaiensisenlarge
Photographer: Jill Shimatsu
Image Owner: National Tropical Botanical Garden

Caesalpinia kavaiensisenlarge
Photographer: D. Ragone
Image Owner: National Tropical Botanical Garden


Caesalpinia kavaiensis is Not Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 

 
Caesalpinia kavaiensis


There are four Caesalpinia species in Hawaii, three introduced and one endemic. Caesalpinia kavaiensis, or uhiuhi, was once fairly abundant on the islands of Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai, and Maui. The wood of C. kavaiensis is highly valued for its color, grain, and density. Hawaiians made spears with the wood and also a fishing implement known as la’au melomelo or la’au maklei. The past cutting of trees for these uses is likely not the contributing factor to its decline and current endangered status, as numbers have more recently declined as a result of grazing by introduced cattle, goats and sheep. However, because populations are now so small (only 32 individuals remain), the loss of even one tree for any purpose brings the species precipitously close to extinction.

C. kavaiensis, a member of the pea family (Fabaceae), is a tree that can grow up to 10 meters (33 ft) tall, with trunks that have dark gray bark with rough rectangular or oblong plates. The flowers are perfect (with both male and female organs) with a pink to rose calyx and red anthers borne in terminal racemes that are pink to red in color. C. kavaiensis has pink seedpods that are winged on one side, making this a very attractive tree. (Wagner et al. 1999)

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  Hawaii
State Range of  Caesalpinia kavaiensis
Habitat
  C. kavaiensis is restricted to dry or mesic forests between 80 to 920 meters (262 to 3,018 ft) elevation. (Wagner et al. 1999)

Associated species of C. kavaiensis include Dodonaea viscosa (aalii), Diospyros sandwicense (lama), and Canthium odoratum (alahee).

Distribution
  C. kavaiensis, an endemic tree to the Hawaiian Islands, was once widespread on the islands of Kaua’i (Waimea Canyon), O’ahu (Wai’anae Mountains), west Maui, North Kona District, Hawai’i, and Lana`i. Today, C. kavaiensis is extinct on Kaua’i (Waimea Canyon), and Lana`i (KR Wood pers. comm.) and is now found only on O’ahu (Central Wai’anae Mountains), and Hawai’i (Hualalai) (Wagner et al. 1999).

Number Left
  Less than 20 individuals total are found in in 2 populations on the Big Island
Less than 10 individuals total in 2 populations on Oahu
Two individuals in 1 population on Kauai
FROM NTBG:
Nos. of Pop: 5 (Center for Plant Conservation [CPC] 2002)
Nos. of Plants: <32 (CPC 2002)

Protection

Global Rank:  
G1
 
8/7/1990
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
 
10/24/1996
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  
Yes
 
5/6/1994

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Hawaii S1 4/11/2002  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  C. kavaiensis is a hermaphrodite and is insect-pollinated (Sakai et al. 1995).

Threats
  Threats to C. kavaiensis include habitat degradation by grazing cattle, mouflon, axis deer, and feral goats. Additional threats include urban development, fires, and invasion of exotic plants, rodents, exotic insects such as the coffee twig borer (Xylosandrus compactus), feral ungulates, and over collecting.

Current Research Summary
  C. kavaiensis plants, both wild and cultivated produce viable seed. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DOFAW) occasionally collects seeds from the wild and propagated plants in Hilo nursery. The seedlings are then transplanted into fenced enclosures where they are supported by watering and weed control (USFWS 1994).

Seeds of C. kavaiensis have been tested by the Center for Conservation Research and Training (CCRT), finding that they are orthodox and can tolerate freezing and drying. The laboratory germination time was one to three weeks (Yoshinaga 2002).

Current Management Summary
  Management goals for C. kavaiensis include reducing current threats such as fire, damage by herbivores, to make habitat improvements, and to encourage natural re-generation. Outplanting nursery-raised trees are also a part of management goals.

Management strategies are focused on fenced exclosures. The fences protect trees from browsing cattle and feral ungulates. They are designed to be large enough for expansions in populations. Fire breaks and fire roads outside the protected areas have been cleared to protect and to give access to the enclosures. Fountain grass removal also increases the probability of regeneration and seedling establishment (USFWS 1994).

The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) currently has ex situ holdings of 1,160 seeds in its seed bank, which represents four out of the five populations. In addition, there are five plants growing in the nursery and 11 plants in the botanical garden representing two populations.

Research Management Needs
  1. Prevent the destruction of the few remaining wild trees of C. kavaiensis
2. Remove the environmental factors that may prevent natural regeneration and dispersal of C. kavaiensis (ex. control alien species such as fountain grass, insect control and feral ungulate control).
3. Conduct research on limiting factors of C. kavaiensis.
4. Augmenting current populations of C. kavaiensis.
5. Validate and revise recovery objectives for C. kavaiensis.
6. Map genetic diversity in the surviving populations of C. kavaiensis.
7. Conduct pollination biology and seed dispersal studies.
Recommendations derived from M.H. Chapin, M. Maunder, Center for Plant Conservation [CPC] (2002), and USFWS (1994).

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

References

Books (Single Authors)

Wagner, W.L.; Bruegmann, M.M.; Herbst, D.R; Lau, J.Q.C. 1999. Hawaiian Vascular Plants at Risk: 1999. Honolulu, HI: Bishop Museum Press Honolulu.

Wagner, W.L.; Herbst, D.R.; Sohmer, S.H. 1999. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai'i--Revised Edition. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press and Bishop Museum Press. 1853p.

Books (Sections)

Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the U.S., Canada, and Greenland. In: Kartesz, J.T.; Meacham, C.A., editors. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden. Chapel Hill, NC.

Electronic Sources

Gustafson, R.J. Hawaii's Unique and Vanishing Flora: A Photographic Exhibition. [Web site] ¬ The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Foundation. http://www.nhm.org/research/botany/Hawaii_Vanishing_Flora/home.html. Accessed: 2002.

NatureServe. (2008). NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. [Internet].Version 7.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. http://www.natureserve.org/explorer. Accessed: (June 17, 2008).

USFWS. (2001). Unpublished data. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817. Accessed: 2001.

Yoshinaga, A. (2002). Seed storage characteristics of Hawaiian species. [Web site] University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii 96848. http://www.hawaii.edu/scb/seed/seedtabl.html. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

Sakai, A.K.; Wagner, W.L.; Ferguson, D.M.; Herbst, D.R. 1995. Origins of Dioecy in the Hawaiian Flora. Ecology. 76, 8: 2517-2529.

USFWS. 1985. Proposed Rule to Determine Endangered Status for Mezoneuron kavaiense (Uhiuhi). Federal Register. 50, 150: 31632-31635.

USFWS. 1985. Protection Sought for Four Vulnerable Plants. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 10, 9: 1, 8-9.

USFWS. 1985. Public Hearings and Reopening of Comment Period on Proposed Endangered Status for Abutilon menziesii (ko`oloa 'ula), Hibiscadelphus distans (Kauai hau kuahiwi), Mezoneuron kavaiense (uhiuhi), and Scaevola coriacea (dwarf naupaka). Federal Register. 50, 202: 42196-42197.

Reports

MISC. 2001. Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), Pulling Together Initiative. 2002 Project Proposal. Submitted to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. p.14.

USFWS. 1994. Recovery Plan for Caesalpinia kavaiensis and Kokia drynarioides. Portland, OR: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. p.82 + appendices.

USFWS. 2002. Pacific Islands Project Highlights: Kona Dryland Forest Project. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Pacific Islands. Web page.


  This profile was updated on 9/28/2010
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