Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office
Pacific Region

Endangered Species in the Pacific Islands

Recovery Plan for the Vicia mensiezii

Photo of Vicia mensiezii A vigorous perennial vine, Vicia menziesii or Hawaiian vetch extends upward into the subcanopy of the native forest, often with extensive lateral branching. An individual plnat has been known to bear as many as 235 magenta flowers similar to those of a pea. The flowers are frequently visited and potentially pollinated by native birds such as `i`iwi and `amakihi. Vicia menziesii was the first Hawaiian plant species to be listed, in 1978.
Photo of Vicia mensiezii - Credit Marie Bruegmann/USFWS

Habitat & Distribution:
Vicia menziesii may have once occurred between 5,000 to 7,000 feet (1,500 to 2,100 meters) elevation in a band stretching along the windward sides of both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. As of 2008, only 18 wild individuals remain, and reintroduction attempts have not been very successful. Twenty years or more ago most individuals occurred in mesic wet transition forest, not the deep dark forests as found today, which may be why the species is not doing as well.

Habitat alteration by feral and domesticated animals has been identified as the primary reason for the decline of Vicia menziesii. Mouflon sheep, cattle, goats and pigs are currently a major threat to Vicia menziesii. Volcanic activity is also a threat to this species, located on the slopes of an active volcano and with such limited current distribution. Numerous invasive introduced plant species also threaten Vicia menziesii.  The two remaining populations are fenced, and ungulate control is ongoing. Additional attempts are being made to reintroduce the species, which does fairly well in cultivation and is growing in the Volcano Rare Plant Facility.

Last updated: September 20, 2012
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