Maui News

Archiving a Legacy of Plants at Haleakalā National Park

February 10, 2021, 10:56 AM HST
* Updated February 10, 10:59 AM
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Collection of archived plant specimens at Haleakalā National Park. PC: Haleakalā NP

After 28 years of long and distinguished service at Haleakalā National Park, Botanist Bill Haus officially retired from the National Park Service on Jan. 31, 2021. 

Bill, and his co-worker and wife Patti Welton, have spent their long careers identifying and collecting plant specimens for archiving at Haleakalā National Park.  

Starting in the early 1990s, the two traveled throughout all areas of the park searching for rare plants, many of them endangered or threatened. Once collected, the plant specimens were press-dried and mounted onto carefully labeled archival paper.

Collection of archived plant specimens at Haleakalā National Park. PC: Haleakalā NP

The records helped identify new species and determined the range of known species across the landscape. In some cases, the specimens became the last record of a plant species driven to extinction by feral animals, fire, weed invasion, or land development.

Other renown botanists, such as Otto Degener, have also provided specimens for the park’s herbarium.

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With more than 400 herbarium specimens currently in the park museum collection, Haleakalā National Park staff are processing another 700 specimens to be stored at the Bishop Museum on Oʻahu.  

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Reflecting on his career, Haus said, “Patti and I botanized together and share our life together. I feel fortunate as you don’t have many opportunities to do your life’s work and be with your partner.” Haus added, “Looking back at the specimens we’ve collected over the years, you see how much things have changed over time and how much we ourselves have changed. The specimens we’ve collected are a legacy of our life’s work and the legacy we created will be passed down to the next generation.”  

To see some of the rare and threated species in the Haleakalā National Park’s Herbarium Collection visit the NPS archives here.

After 28 years of long and distinguished service at Haleakalā National Park, Botanist Bill Haus officially retired from the National Park Service on Jan. 31, 2021. PC: Haleakalā NP.
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