Brighamia insignis

Brighamia insignis flowers at Kohanaiki Beach Park, Hawaii
A Brighamia insignis plant at Kohanaiki Beach Park, Hawaii
A Brighamia insignis flower at Kohanaiki Beach Park, Hawaii

I saw this Brighamia insignis plant in the Hawaiian garden at Kohanaiki Beach Park. It caught my eye for its unusual appearance, which is the source of one of its common names of cabbage-on-a-stick. In Hawaii it’s called Ālula, Hāhā, Pū aupaka, or ʻŌlulu.

Brighamia insignis is endemic to Hawaii, specifically the sea cliffs of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau. However, if you look for it there you’re almost certainly going to be disappointed. The last survey in 2014 found just one plant in Kauaʻi. The reasons for its demise are familiar. The hawk moth that used to pollinate the plant is long since extinct and it has been ravaged by introduced species. In addition, in 1992, Hurricane ʻIniki destroyed half the remaining wild plants.

On the bright side, the plant is easy to propagate by hand and it has been widely distributed by nurseries and botanical gardens.


6 thoughts on “Brighamia insignis

  1. kzmcb

    It seems a very worthy candidate for a comeback in its natural environment. Disappointingly, younger European settled countries like Australia haven’t learnt anything from the experience of others and continue down the same path.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Graham Post author

      I don’t think it can come back in the wild because its pollinators are extinct. At least it lives on unlike many species the world over.


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