On your drive up to Mauna Kea, silversword plants greet visitors eager to get to the top. They’re actually among a list of endangered plants found in Hawaii, which is why a recovery plan has been put underway to help save the silversword.

​Volunteers recently planted 100 plants on the slopes of the Hawaii Island volcano. Replenishing the supply will ensure their existence at Mauna Kea for years to come. The special thing about this plant is that it dies once it flowers, and it can flower any time between three and 50 years. But it’s never certain how long we’ll have them around.

Over time, the population has dwindled to just one area of the volcano called Waipahoehoe Gulch. It’s located within the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve at 9,000 feet. Efforts to save this endangered species include building fences and exclosures around the silverswords, as well as hosting plantings, such as the one that took place recently.

The Hawaiian name for the silversword is ahinahina. The native plant can also be seen on your drive up to Haleakala crater on Maui. They’re pretty easy to spot. The plant stands erect with silver-colored leaves, while the flower itself looks like a sunflower.


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