Recovery plan for the Mauna Kea Silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense ssp. sandwicense)

Author: Powell, Elizabeth Ann
Title: Recovery plan for the Mauna Kea Silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense ssp. sandwicense)
Year: 1994
Subject: Silverswords Mauna Kea
Argyroxiphium sandwicense
Endangered plants
Summary: The Mauna Kea silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subspecies sandwicense) (Asteraceae) is a giant rosette plant endemic to the alpine areas of Mauna Kea volcano on the island of Hawaii. This subspecies was added to the federal list of endangered species without critical habitat by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) on March 21, 1986 (Federal Register Vol. 51, No. 55, pp. 9814-9820). The Mauna Kea Silversword may have been abundant on all slopes of Mauna Kea between 2600 and 3800 meters (8528 and 12,464 feet) elevation in prehistoric times. The decline of the silversword has been attributed to browsing by feral ungulates, particularly sheep (Ovis aries), mouflon (Ovis musimon), and goats (Capra hircus). Currently, the subspecies has been reduced to a single naturally occurring population. Between 1973 and 1982, the State of Hawaii outplanted silverswords in three exclosures within the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve near Puu Nanaha at 2770 meters (9086 feet) elevation, near Skyline jeep trail at 2970 meters (9742 feet) elevation, and at Waipahoehoe Gulch at 2800 meters (9184 feet) elevation. In 1991, the total population was estimated at about 495 individuals, of which about 38 were naturally occurring (i.e., unplanted). The purposes of this recovery plan are to present information regarding the Mauna Kea silversword’s range, population status, and life history and describe management actions needed to prevent the extinction of the silversword and to ultimately remove it from the list of endangered species.
Appendix: Appendix 1. Historical sightings and collections of the Mauna Kea silversword -- Appendix 2. Recovery Plan Reviewers.
Database: Monographs

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