Lo'ulu (Pritchardia viscosa)

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Lo'ulu plant
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Lo'ulu fact file

Lo'ulu description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderArecales
FamilyPalmae
GenusPritchardia (1)

This small fan palm is extremely rare with only 4 plants remaining in the wild. The leaf blades radiate from the squat trunk; they have a slightly luminescent appearance due to the silvery-grey underside (2). The flower stalk, or inflorescence, is roughly the same length as the leaf stalk; it is loosely branched with two vertical rows of extremely shiny, almost varnished-looking, flowers (2). The pear-shaped fruit is up to 4 centimetres long and 2.5 centimetres across (2).

Size
Height: 3 - 8 m (2)
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Lo'ulu biology

Little is known about the ecology of this rare palm.

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Lo'ulu range

The genus Pritchardia are the only palms native to the Hawaiian archipelago (3), and P. viscosa is found on the island of Kauai (1). This palm is extremely rare and only 4 plants are currently known to survive in the wild (4); these are found on the windward side of a ridge at the end of the Powerline Trail (2).

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Lo'ulu habitat

Inhabits wet, open rainforest at altitudes of between 500 and 700 metres above sea level (2).

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Lo'ulu status

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered

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Lo'ulu threats

Pritchardia viscosa is extremely rare and the four remaining wild plants are highly vulnerable to any chance event that may occur. This species has suffered from habitat destruction and from competition with invasive introduced species such as Rhodomyrtus spp. and Psidium spp. (4). In 1992, Hurricane Iniki swept through the area and destroyed yet more of the remaining plants (1). Today, the biggest threat to the survival of the 4 remaining trees comes from seed predation by rats, pigs or humans (1).

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Lo'ulu conservation

Pritchardia viscosa is listed as Endangered throughout its range by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and as such is featured on a Recovery Plan for the Kauai Plant Cluster, which was developed in 1995 (5).

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Authentication

Authenticated (2/7/03) by Dr. John Dransfield. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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Glossary

Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Inflorescence
The reproductive shoot of the plant, which bears flowers (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure).
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2003)
    http://www.redlist.org
  2. Wagner, W.L., Herbst, D.R. & Sohmer, S.H. (1999) Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawaii: Vol. 2 [revised ed] University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.
  3. National Tropical Botanic Garden (February, 2003)
    http://www.ntbg.org/palmwalk6.html
  4. Dransfield, J. (October, 2002) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pers. comm.
  5. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Progamme (February, 2003)
    http://endangered.fws.gov/
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Image credit

Lo'ulu plant  
Lo'ulu plant

© John Dransfield / Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 3AB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 332 5000
Fax: +44 (0) 208 332 5197
info@kew.org
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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