Silversword Plants to Journey to Korea for Horticulture Show

April 22, 2014, 10:29 AM HST · Updated April 22, 1:06 PM
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Rare Haleakalā `Āhinahina (Silversword) plant at Haleakalā National Park on Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Rare ‘Āhinahina (Silversword) plant at Haleakalā National Park. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

The Haleakalā `ahinahina or silversword plant will make the journey to Korea and back, marking the first time the plant has left Haleakalā since 1992 when it was federally listed as a threatened species, county officials announced.

A total of three specimens from a greenhouse will be preserved and transported for display in a rare plant exhibit at the South Korea Goyang International Horticulture Show, taking place from April 24 through May 11, 2014, according to an announcement today from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.

Department officials say they secured the necessary permits to transport the specimens, which are found only on the upper slopes of Haleakalā on Maui.

Haleakalā silversword landscape. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Haleakalā silversword landscape. Photo by Wendy Osher.

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“It took us nine months to secure all the necessary permits to export the specimens, including permission from the National Park Service and permits from US Fish & Wildlife Service and the US Department of Agriculture,” said Teena Rasmussen, director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, in a county press release.

According to the announcement, half of the booth will be dedicated to the silversword, and the other half will showcase Maui’s rainforests, beaches, and tropical flowers.

Haleakalā silversword. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Haleakalā silversword. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said Goyang had been interested in displaying the silversword from the moment it became a Sister City in 2011. In a press release statement he said, “The silversword is an important native plant, culturally and ecologically for Maui and we are proud to share it with the people of Goyang. South Korean visitors are known for their love of hiking, wildlife and the outdoors so this is also an important outreach for our tourism industry. This is truly a great opportunity to help preserve this beautiful plant while educating the world about the impacts of climate change on our environment, especially on rare and fragile plants like this,” he said.

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The booth will reportedly be staffed by Haleakalā park ranger and botanist, Stephen Anderson. Maui floral designer Asa Ige was also hired to design the booth and travel with the plants to South Korea, the announcement said.

Upon their return to Hawaiʻi, county officials say the plants will be used in park environmental education programs.

HNP Superintendent Natalie Gates noted that the plants were not collected from natural habitat, but were grown in a greenhouse as part of an experiment on the effects of climate change on native vegetation.

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