Metrosideros polymorpha Gaudich.

Metrosideros polymorpha

Distribution:

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

local names:

‘ahihi ku ma kua – Hawai’i Islands
‘ahihi lehua – Hawai’i Islands
kumakua – Hawai’i Islands
lehua – Hawai’i Islands
lehua ‘ahihi – Hawai’i Islands
lehua papa – Hawai’i Islands
‘ohia lehua – Hawai’i Islands
‘ohia – Hawai’i Islands
‘ohi’a ‘ahihi – Hawai’i Islands
‘ohia lehua – Hawai’i Islands

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The ‘ohi’a lehua is by far the most common of the endemic tree species on the Hawaiian Islands and inhabits many areas on all of the main islands.

The species is highly variable, being usually a tall tree, but sometimes a small cushion-like shrub, and is thus split into eight varieties, these include:

Metrosideros polymorpha var. dieteri J. W. Dawson & Stemmerm. endemic to Kaua’i
Metrosideros polymorpha var. glaberrima (H. Lév.) H. St. John found on Hawai’i, Kaua’i, Lana’i, Maui, Moloka’i, O’ahu
Metrosideros polymorpha var. incana (H. Lév.) H. St. John found on Hawai’i, Kaua’i, Lana’i, Maui, Moloka’i, O’ahu
Metrosideros polymorpha var. macrophylla (Rock) H. St. John only on Hawai’i and Maui
Metrosideros polymorpha var. newellii (Rock) H. St. John endemic to Hawai’i
Metrosideros polymorpha var. polymorpha Gaudich. found on Hawai’i, Kaua’i, Lana’i, Maui, O’ahu
Metrosideros polymorpha var. pseudorugosa (Skottsb.) J. W. Dawson & Stemmerm. endemic to western Maui
Metrosideros polymorpha var. pumila (A. Heller) J. W. Dawson & Stemmerm. found on Kaua’i, Maui, Moloka’i, O’ahu

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The flowers of the ‘ohi’a lehua are usually red in color, but there are also orange- and yellow-flowering individuals. The nectar-rich flowers are one of the most important food resources, not only for various endemic and native insect species, but also for the few remaining endemic honeycreepers.

The ‘ohi’a lehua is a pioneer species on solidified lava, its dead leaves build the first fertile soil and therewith the basic conditions for further plant life. The tree is furthermore a very important basic component of another habitat, which, in such a way, is found only on the Hawaiian Islands – lava tubes. The roots of the trees, growing above such a lava tube, dangle from the ceiling of the tube, allowing rainwater to drip in, and furthermore build the basis of a food chain for an enormous number of specialized, cavernicolous arthropod species.

The wood is very hard and was in former times used for the construction of houses and temples (heiau), and of course for many other purposes, the bright red flowers (lehua), as well as the reddish colored new leaf shoots (liko) were/are used to make lei.

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References:

[1] N. DeBoer; E. A. Stacy: Divergence within and among 3 varieties of the endemic tree, ‘Ohi’a Lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) on the eastern slope of Hawai’i Island. Journal of Herdity 104(4): 1-10. 2013
[2] E. A. Stacy; J. B. Johansen; T. Sakishima; D. K. Price; Y. Pillon: Incipient radiation within the dominant Hawaiian tree Metrosideros polymorpha. Heredity (Edinb) 113(4): 334-342. 2014

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

http://www.starrenvironmental.com

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Metrosideros kermadecensis W. R. B. Oliv.

Metrosideros kermadecensis

Distribution:

New Zealand: Herald Islets, North Chanter Island, North Meyer Island, South Meyer Islands, Raoul Island (Kermadec Islands)

local names: –

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metrosideros-kermadecensis-fks

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

http://www.starrenvironmental.com

Metrosideros macropus Hook. & Arn.

Metrosideros macropus

Distribution:

Hawai’i Islands: O’ahu

local names:

lehua – O’ahu / Hawai’i Islands
lehua mamo – O’ahu / Hawai’i Islands
‘ohia – O’ahu / Hawai’i Islands
‘ohi’a – O’ahu / Hawai’i Islands
‘ohia lehua – O’ahu / Hawai’i Islands

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This yellow-flowering species is endemic to the Ko’olau Mountains on the island of O’ahu.

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metrosideros-macropus-km

Photo: Karl Magnacca

(under creative commons license (2,5))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5