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Four Seasons Resort Lanai and Pulama Lanai Plant Endangered Awikiwiki in Special Ceremony

Event launches project to reintroduce the endangered species to surrounding area 
October 21, 2021,
Hawaii, Lanai, U.S.A.

Lanai is home to 21 federally threatened and endangered plant species, including a number endemic to Lanai.  Canavalia pubescens, more commonly known as awikiwiki, is a federally endangered perennial vine with dark purple to pink flowers. Today’s planting ceremony commemorates the launch of a botanical preservation project to reintroduce this species to the area around Four Seasons Resort Lanai.

The awikiwiki planted today are from a former Lanai awikiwiki founder near Kaena, on the northwest side of Lanai. The plants are being established inside the Resort’s Tennis Garden, where they will be protected from non-native herbivores (such as axis deer), and the landscaping team can care for them as they flourish.  

Authorised seed collection from these plants will be sent to Lyon Arboretum for long term seed storage.  Some seeds will be withdrawn in the next few years when Pulama Lanai and Four Seasons Resort Lanai staff can look forward to the reintroduction of awikiwiki in its native habitat in the Hulopoe-Manele coastal zone. Plans are in place to create a protected area where destructive ungulates (axis deer and mouflon sheep) will be fenced out and plants will have the opportunity to grow. Wild awikiwiki plants have not been seen in this area for more than two decades.

Although historically endemic to the Hawaiian Islands of Niihau, Kauai, Maui and Lanai, awikiwiki has most likely been extirpated from Niihau and Kauai. The species is found in open lava fields, along rocky shorelines, and open dry shrubland to dry forest habitats. 

A number of new awikiwiki individuals have been discovered on Lanai in recent years, although the total number of known wild plants on island is currently only two mature individuals. Seed collection from these remaining wild plants is ongoing. There are currently more than 20 awikiwiki outplanted at four protected (fenced) sites on Lanai.  

This project is part of ongoing preservation efforts by both organisations. Pulama Lanai’s Conservation Department cares for the island’s diverse species and fragile ecosystem through the protection and monitoring of native species, control and removal of invasive species and biosecurity – preventing the introduction of any new invasive species.

Among many initiatives, the team has constructed a nursery that grows numerous native plants that are then outplanted around the island. Rare plant monitoring, seed collection, nursery propagation, and outplanting activities are all covered under the rare plant permit that Pulama Lanai has maintained for a number of years with the State of Hawaii’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife. In addition, the Pulama Lanai Conservation Department is focused on establishing predator- and ungulate-free zones throughout the island to protect native plants, tree snails, and seabirds, particularly through fencing.

“Protecting Lanai’s native ecosystem is part of our larger vision of creating a sustainable island community,” says Kurt Matsumoto, President of Pulama Lanai. “We are grateful to the team at Four Seasons Resort Lanai for providing a home for the endangered awikiwiki. Their care will ensure that another species endemic to our island will not be lost forever.”

“We are honoured to participate in this valuable project and support ongoing sustainability efforts across our island,” shared Alastair McAlpine, General Manager, Four Seasons Resorts Lanai.  “Our guests are eager to learn about Lanai’s rich culture and history through our Love Lanai workshops and Garden Tours and we look forward to sharing this story with them.”

Director of Landscaping Robert Woodman presides over the Resort’s botanical gardens, consisting of 12 densely-planted acres (almost five hectares) with more than 500 species, including a deliberate and thoughtful program to incorporate a wide variety of Hawaiian native plants.  Woodman conducts complimentary tours of the gardens and has set up an online encyclopaedia and map, complimented by a gallery of images offering a colourful showcase of the rich variety of foliage.  The Resort recently achieved Arboretum Accreditation by the Morton Register of Arboreta, recognising professional standards and capabilities in a shared purpose to plant and conserve trees and advance goals specific to tree-focused public gardens. 

About Pulama Lanai

Pulama Lanai is committed to redefining the Hawaiian Island of Lanai as a sustainable community by creating new opportunities driven by agriculture, resource management, conservation and more. Enhancing and perpetuating the island’s diverse species and fragile ecosystem through game management, natural species preservation, watershed management, erosion control, coastal resources and fisheries management, invasive species control and conservation education, Pulama Lanai brings an integrated and comprehensive approach to protect and manage Lanai’s natural resources to preserve Hawaiian culture and enhance the lives of Lanai residents.