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Save an Endangered Plant

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service News Release

A rare plant, found only in the wet forests of eastern Molokai, was designated an endangered species in 2009. A draft Recovery Plan for the plant, called Phyllostegia hispida, is available for public comment, with the addition of a recent addendum. The draft plan is published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Phyllostegia hispida, known only by its scientific name, is a nonaromatic member of the mint family (Lamiaceae).  It is a loosely spreading, many-branched vine that often forms large tangled masses, and is known only from the wet forests of eastern Molokai at elevations between 3,650 and 4,200 feet.

The species has rarely been seen in the wild.  From 1910 to 1979, a total of eight populations were recorded, but in subsequent years died for various reasons.  Since 1996, surveys failed to locate additional individuals and the species was thought to be extirpated until 2005 when two seedlings were discovered at The Nature Conservancy’s Kamakou Preserve.

As of 2009, approximately 20 mature individual plants remain in the wild and an unknown number of seedlings.  Additional small naturally occurring wild populations containing only seedlings, separate from the 20 mature individuals, are found at the Nature Conservancy’s Kamakou Preserve (two populations) and Pu`u Ali`i Natural Area Reserve (one population).
To prevent the extinction and ultimately recover the species within its historical range, the service recommends such measures as protecting, managing, and increasing wild populations; continuing survey efforts and research; and controlling threats such as habitation degradation and predation.

Copies of the draft recovery plan are available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website at http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/ or by calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Honolulu office at 808 792 9400.  Written comments may be submitted until August 1, 2011 to Loyal Mehrhoff, Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Box 50088, Honolulu, Hawaii 96850.


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