Plantago rapensis Pilg.

Plantago rapensis

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Rapa

local names: –

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Miocalles superstes (Zimmerman)

Marotiri Miocalles Weevil (Miocalles superstes)

The Marotiri Miocalles Weevil was described in the year 1936 (as Microcryptorhynchus superstes Zimmerman).

This species is known only from the tiny Southeast Islet of the Marotiri group in the south of the Austral Archipelago, where the animals can be found on St.-John’s Beggarticks (Bidens saint-johniana Sherff) and on Yellow Purslane (Portulaca lutea Soland. ex G. Forst.), on which they obviously feed.

The flightless Marotiri Miocalles Weevil is only about 0,2 cm long, and reddish brown in color. [1]

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References:

[1] Elwood C. Zimmerman: Curculionidae of Marotiri, South-Central Pacific (Coleoptera). Pacific Insects 8(4): 893-903. 1966

Veronica poppelwellii Cockayne

Veronica poppelwellii

Distribution:

New Zealand: South Island

local names: –

Sinployea aunuuana Solem

Aunuu Sinployea Snail (Sinployea aunuuana)

This species, which is restricted to the small island of ‘Aunu’u offshore Tutuila’s east coast in the American part of Samoa, was described in the year 1983.

The shell reaches an average size of 0,28 cm in diameter. [1]

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The island of ‘Aunu’u was investigated in intensive field studies in the year 2001, when the island was found to be infested with two alien snail species: the Two-toned Gulella (Huttonella bicolor (Hutton)), and the West African Streptostele Snail (Streptostele musaecola (Morelet)); both are known to be invasive, mainly snail-eating species, and both are found on many Pacific islands now.

The Aunuu Sinployea Snail was not found in 2001, and is now considered most likely extinct. [2]

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References:

[1] Alan Solem: Endodontoid land snails from Pacific Islands (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Sigmurethra). Part II, Families Punctidae and Charopidae, Zoogeography. Field Museum of Natural History Chicago, Illinois 1983
[2] Robert H. Cowie; Rebecca J. Rundell: The Land Snails of a small tropical island, Aunu’u, American Samoa. Pacific Science 56(2): 143-147. 2002

Asplenium trichomanes L.

Asplenium trichomanes

Distribution:

Hawai’i Islands: Hawai’i, Maui
New Zealand: North Island; South Island

local names: –

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Three subspecies are known to occur within the Polynesian region, of which only one is endemic.

The nominate race occurs in Australia and on New Zealand’s North- and South Islands, the subspecies Asplenium trichomanes ssp. densum (Brack.) W. H. Wagner is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, while the subspecies Asplenium trichomanes ssp. quadrivalens Meyer, which is native to Australia and Europe, is known from a few population on New Zealand’s North Island.

Hibiscus furcellatus Desr.

Clay’s Hibiscus (Hibiscus furcellatus)

Distribution:

Hawai’i Islands: Hawai’i, Kaua’i, Maui, O’ahu

local names:

aloalo – Hawai’i Islands
‘akiahala – Hawai’i Islands
‘akiohala – Hawai’i Islands
hau hele – Hawai’i Islands
hau hele wai – Hawai’i Islands

The ‘Green Cancer’

The ‘Green Cancer’

Actually, the Miconia (Miconia calvescens DC.), occurring naturally from Central to South America, is indeed a very beautiful plant – actually.

Unfortunately it is also probably one of the most invasive plant species at all, the worst thing, that could happen to the native flora of many of the Polynesian islands.

The species was brought to Polynesia for the first time in the year 1937, namely to Tahiti, to enhance the inventory of the local Botanical Garden.

Birds, alien species as well introduced by humans like Red-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus cafer L.) or Silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis Latham), very soon begun to ensure the dissemination of the numerous, very small seeds. The seeds are also often hidden in the soil adhering the roots of several other plants, for example food plants like Taro, and can, together with these plants, be transported from one place to another. Moreover, they can very easily and absolutely unintentionally be distributed with the muddy filth in the profile of the sole of a shoe.

The species grows extremely fast, its leaves are giant and soon block the light from the smaller plants, which leads to their unavoidably death. Once the species has established itself somewhere, it will soon vehemently assume command over all of the other plant species and generate giant pure stands. For example, in the year 1996 two-thirds of the vegetation on the island of Tahiti were made solely by Miconias (!).

In the meantime the species can be found on several of the Hawaiian Islands (Hawai’i, Kaua’i, Maui, O’ahu), the larger of the Society Islands (Mo’orea, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, Tahiti) as well as on some islands of the Marquesas (Fatu Hiva, Nuku Hiva).

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References:

[1] Jean Yves Meyer: Status of Miconia calvescens (Melastomataceae), a dominant invasive tree in the Society Islands (French Polynesia). Pacific Science 50(1): 66-76. 1996

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Photo: Kim Starr & Forest Starr; by courtesy of Kim Starr & Forest Starr

http://www.starrenvironmental.com

Deudorix doris Hopkins

Samoan Cornelian (Deudorix doris)

The adult has a wingspan of about 3 cm, the forewings are black with the so-called cell fiery red colored, the hindwings are of the same red color for about a third of their area.

The males appear to be much commoner than females, but these may just hide in the forest canopy, where they are quite difficult to observe. [1]

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The caterpillars are thought to feed on fruits of native tree species including Elaeocarpus spp. and Hernandia spp.. [2]

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References:

[1] G. H. E. Hopkins: Insects of Samoa and other Samoan terrestrial Arthropoda. Part III. Lepidoptera, Fasc. 1. Butterflies of Samoa and some neighboring island-groups. London 1927
[2] Brian Patrick; Hamish Patrick: Butterflies of the South Pacific. Otago University Press 2012

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female and male

Depictions from: ‘G. H. E. Hopkins: Insects of Samoa and other Samoan terrestrial Arthropoda. Part III. Lepidoptera, Fasc. 1. Butterflies of Samoa and some neighboring island-groups. London 1927’

(public domain)