Brighamia Insignis

Ancestors of the Hawaiian Palm probably arrived on the Hawaiian Islands millions of years ago. Because of the isolated location of these islands in the Pacific Ocean, plants and animals were able to evolve mostly undisturbed and form unique and remarkable relationships. It is thought that the long, tube-shaped flowers of the Hawaiian Palm evolved in parallel with a moth species, believed to be the only one capable of pollinating the plant’s flowers.

The delicate natural balance of the Hawaiian Islands was dramatically disturbed over time with the arrival of people on the islands. Through clearance and the introduction of non-native plants and animals, the moth’s natural habitat disappeared. It is thought that the moth itself has also disappeared. Without these moths the plant cannot easily pollinate and reproduce. As a result, no more than seven of these plants are known to exist in the wild on the island of Kaua’i, making the Hawaiian Palm one of the world’s rarest plants. According to the IUCN Red List, Brighamia insignis is listed as Critically Endangered.

Propagation by Seeds

The fruit of Brighamia insignis is a green capsule about 1/2 inch long which ripens six to eight weeks after pollination. When mature, the capsule splits open releasing many small, smooth seeds. Capsules may still be green when the open or they may have turned pale yellow or light cream in color. Some seeds may remain stuck to the sides of the capsule. The capsules can be harvested just as they start to crack open. Place the capsules in a paper bag or envelope until the seeds fall out of the open capsule.

Most sources state that Brighamia seeds require light to germinate and to sprinkle the seeds on the surface of moist, fine textured medium that drains well such as fine perlite or commercial peat/perlite potting mix. Seeds should be kept in partial shade. Seeds will begin germinating in a couple of weeks and that most seeds will sprout at the same time.

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1 comment:

Uluwehi said...

I appreciate your love for this special species. You have grown it very well! Congratulations on producing your own seed! Did you hand pollinate with one clone or two different clones?

You may know already but the seeds also should be sown very soon after ripening as their period of viability is short.

Their main pests in cultivation are many species sucking spider mites (attack leaf undersides) and reniform nematodes (kill the plant's roots). I imagine aphids, mealybug and scale could also do damage but the first two are the most vexing, at least in cultivation in Hawai'i.


Jacob Uluwehi Knecht

You may enjoy the following:

1. Set of some of my native Hawaiian plant photos:

2. Flickr group I created to feature native Hawaiian biota: