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.