Mauna Loa silverswords bloom and die

A silversword blooms on Mauna Loa.

This is the time of year when silverswords bloom. These plants, members of the sunflower family, are endemic to Hawaii. There are slightly different silverswords growing on Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and Haleakala on Maui. The plants are very susceptible to root disturbance and the activities of goats, pigs and humans has led to their decline. They’re making a comeback now thanks to fenced enclosures and careful management.

These photos were taken on Mauna Loa a few years back. The flower stalks were about 6 to 8 feet tall. The plants live for up to 30 years, but once they bloom, they die (like the one in the background of the photo to the left).

In the photo below, the ongoing eruption of Kilauea’s Pu’u O’o vent can be seen.

For more information about Mauna Loa silverswords, go to nps.gov/havo/learn/nature/endangered_ahinahina.htm.

A silversword blooming on Mauna Loa with Pu'u O'o vent erupting in the background.

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