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Hawaiʻi has more endangered plants than any other state

Kahuku Point.jpg
Jane Peterson
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ʻAhinahina or silversword is one of the many endangered plants endemic to Hawaiʻi. It is also Kahoʻolawe's emblem plant.

Hawaiʻi has the highest number of endangered plants compared to any other state, according to Matt Keir, a botanist with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

He says Hawaiʻi must act quickly to improve and expand plant nursery facilities to grow more rare plants.

"It’s worth noting that plant extinction crisis in Hawaiʻi is much more urgent and troubling than in any other state," Keir said.

"Hawaiʻi has more than twice the number of endangered plants than California does, and most other states are not even on the page. This is an outsized burden for our state that has 0.1% of the land in the entire country," Keir explained.

There are over 366 native plants in Hawaiʻi labeled as threatened or endangered by federal and state governments, and 48 species proposed as endangered.

Over 100 native plants are extinct because of invasive species.

Threatened and endangered species need direct intervention for protection. This can be done through a cycle that begins with eradicating the animals that eat the plants – such as slugs and rats. Fencing can then be installed to protect the plants.

DLNR conservationists can collect the remaining seeds and grow them in the safety of plant nurseries before returning them to the wild.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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