Cyanea shipmanii
C. shipmanii

Several species within the Cyanea genus are referred to by the Hawaiian name hāhā. Endemic to the Hawaiian islands, Cyanea consists of 11 species and 5 subspecies on Hawai’i island. Cyanea shipmanii is a small, palm-like understory species. The shrub can be unbranched or have few branches and reaches a maximum height of 13 ft. Cyanea shipmannii is characterized by its slender stems and pinnately lobed leaves. The stalked leaves are deeply cut into 20-30 lobes per leaf. Young plants have sharp projections on their stems and leaves, typically only up to about 3.5 ft. This may be an evolved defense against flightless geese or ducks that once existed on the island. The flowers of C. shipmaniihave fine hairs and are  grouped in clusters of 10-15. The flower petals are whitish green and fused into a curved, five-lobed tube. The orange berry is ellipsoid in shape.  


This species occurs on the eastern slope of Mauna Kea and south across the Waiākea Forest Reserve and into the lands of the Kūlani Correctional Facility on the southeastern slope of Mauna Loa, in montane wet ‘ōhi’a and mesic koa/’ōhi’a forest habitat. The elevational range is 5,400-6,200 ft. Additional native species that have been observed with C. shipmanii are kōlea and kāwa’u. In 1840, approximately 50 individuals were found and only one was mature. In the late 1990s a single plant was found in a ravine in the Upper Waiākea Forest Reserve. A small fence was constructed to protect the plant from pigs. Five C. shipmanii were found in the Pua ‘Ākala and Hakalau Tracts of the Refuge in 1993. All but one individual had died by 2000 and the remaining plant was too young to reproduce. Using seed from Waiākea, 109 C. shipmanii were outplanted at the Refuge from 1999-2001. From 2002-2008, an additional 602 C. shipmanii were outplanted.     
Of the 6,088 acres of critical habitat designated for C. shipmanii, over 64 percent occurs within the Hakalau Forest Unit. This area encompasses Pua ‘Ākala and portions of ‘Āwehi, Honoli’i, and Kapue streams. Pigs are known to impact the reproduction of this species and destroy the natural seed bank. Existing populations are also threatened by invasive plants and rats. In the early 1990s rats were known to have eaten all of the fruit and seeds from the known individuals of the endangered C. shipmanii at the Hakalau Forest Unit. Although sporadic rodent control has been employed, these remote areas are difficult to access. Due to the small population size, the species is also in danger of extinction from random events, loss of reproduction vigor, or reduced pollination.

Facts About Hāhā

Family and genus 

Hāhā (Cyanea spp.) are members of the in the Bellflower family (Campanulaceae). Cyanea is an endemic genus of some 80 species with new species still being discovered.