As Hurricane Lane approaches and people hurriedly prepare for it, it is good to remember that many rare Hawaiian plants like me are also very vulnerable to large storms… Once a species becomes so rare like me, random and rare events like individual storms can have large consequences. Back in 1992, one of the last wild Uhi uhi (Caesalpinia kavaiensis) trees on Kauai died after suffering damage from Hurricane Iniki. I myself almost died from a rainfall-related tree fall that squashed me back in February this year…
Uhi uhi (Caesalpinia kavaiensis)
The damage caused by severe storms can have a double whammy effect as the growing space that opens up from storm damaged plants are likely to be taken up by invasive plants, thus speeding up the process of degradation of our remaining native forests.
Efforts to conserve plants are also vulnerable to storms as well. Tree falls can damage fences that keep introduced animals from munching me and many other rare plants that have no defenses to large browsing animals. There is the rare positive outcome of storms to native rare plants- Lysimachia iniki was discovered shortly after Hurricane Iniki as the storm tore a plant off the tall cliffs above Kauai's Wailua River.
So as Lane passes by the islands, think of all of us rare plants up here and hope for the best! I will let you know how I have fared after the storm!