Brighamia insignis, Hawaiian Palm is an extremely rare caudiciform succulent lobelioid from the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau. In 1994 it was listed as Endangered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and in 2016 was placed on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. Already extinct on Niʻihau, just one single wild individual was known to exist on the Nā Pali coast in the southeast of Kauaʻi, perched on a clifftop at 152m elevation. Its survival in the wild on Kauaʻi was radically compromised by the lack of natural pollinators and its main pollinator, the endemic Hawaiian hawkmoth - also listed as endangered - survives mainly on Maui over two hundred miles away. Following many drone surveys, in 2020 Brighamia insignis was finally pronounced extinct in the wild, confirming that this last known specimen on Kaua‘i was no longer present.
Brighamis isignis has been the focus of numerous ex situ conservation efforts led by the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) on Kauaʻi and its Conservation and Horticulture Center has - despite numerous difficulties - continued to propagate it, hand-pollinating flowering plants, raising seed and outplanting in several locations.
Brighamia insignis is a typically unbranched caudiciform succulent with a stout trunk and a upturned crown of broad glossy leaves. It readily bears fragrant yellow flowers from September through to November. These extremely attractive and distinctive characteristics have made it highly prized as a houseplant and have at least ensured its survival in cultivation. If you care for this plant, you will be effectively maintaining an ex-situ conservation programme in your own home for a species that is extinct in the wild.
It requires a very free draining substrate, a well-lit aspect, warmth and humidity and not too much water around the roots, especially during the dark days of winter.
|Synonyms||Brighamia citrina, Brighamia citrina var. napoliensis, Brighamia insignis f. citrina|
|Geographical Origin||USA: Hawaii|
|Cultivation||Good drainage is essential. A warm, well-lit, humid aspect is essential. Can be placed outdoors in the warmer months. A warm sheltered aspect with dappled sun. Must be brought indoors from late September until mid to late spring. Mist foliage in winter|
|Hardiness||Tender. Houseplant in winter or heated glasshouse|
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