The fabulous Hawaiian Palm is a beautiful sight in the garden or living room, creating a tropical ambience with its magnificent green leaves and exotic appearance. The plant also produces exquisite long yellow flowers in October. These flowers increase in beauty as the plant grows older.
On a positive note, although the Hawaiian Palm is an endangered species, you can now play a part in its conservation.
The Hawaiian Palm has grown on the exotic island of Hawaii for millions of years, with the isolated location of the island allowing plants and animals to evolve undisturbed. A certain species of moth is thought to be the only creature capable of pollinating the flowers of the Hawaiian Palm.
This moth is now extinct, as a result of the arrival of humans on Hawaii and the destruction of its natural habitat. The Hawaiian Palm is consequently also faced with extinction, as without the moth pollination and reproduction are seriously inhibited. This makes the palm one of the rarest plants on the planet. There are currently only about seven of these palms growing in the wild, isolated on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i.
What is being done?
A number of scientists and volunteers are actively occupied with the conservation of the Hawaiian Palm. This group belongs to the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC), which aims to halt the decline in biodiversity. The group has pollinated the flowers of the palm by hand and harvested the seed, which is now being used to propagate the Hawaiian Palm.
A large number of plants have now been cultivated in a special reserve, and the Hawaiian Palm will eventually be returned to the wild. The IUCN is also trying to restore the natural habitat of the palm so that it will ultimately be able to survive independently.
How can you help?
By purchasing a Hawaiian Palm you directly support the work of the IUCN/SSC Hawaiian Plant Specialist Group, helping to protect the Hawaiian Palm and many other plants from extinction.
The Hawaiian Palm is very easy to care for. The most important care instructions are given below.
- Watering once a week is sufficient. If the soil is still moist you could even skip a week. The plant is a succulent so it needs very little water. Too much could kill it.
- Feed once a month throughout the year.
- As the lower leaves turn yellow they should be snapped off. This forms the trunk that is characteristic of palm varieties. New leaves develop in the crown and the older leaves at the bottom of the plant are shed. Regular checks and the removal of affected leaves will help to prevent most problems.
- Give the plant a sheltered position in the house or garden in summer. This will prevent excessive leaf drop. The Hawaiian Palm has an atypical growth season, with the main growth taking place in the winter months and the dormant period in summer. It will start to grow vigorously again from August.
- Give the Hawaiian Palm a light position indoors in winter for the best results.
- Repot the palm in a larger pot every year. It can reach a height of one metre.
- Insect damage can be controlled by simply breaking off all damaged leaves and rinsing the stem and remaining leaves with lukewarm water to get rid of any remaining insects. Within six weeks the palm will be as new.
Insect damage can be recognized by the formation of small cobwebs between the leaves (spider mite) or by the appearance of spots on the leaves (thrips). Affected plants should preferably be placed outdoors in summer. The plant is not susceptible to other damage.
- Let the room temperature drop below 12 °C at night to avoid damage by spider mites.