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Rare 'ahinahina plant blooming at Haleakala

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 3:37 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2014

Haleakala National Park is reporting an unusual abundance of silverswords currently in bloom.

The rare ahinahina, found nowhere else in the world, are currently flowering atop the summit at the Kalahaku Overlook or on the 4- to 6-mile hikes into the summit basin along the Sliding Sands Trail.

"Long-term residents and park staff say this is one of the best years they've seen for flowers up here," said Superintendent Natalie Gates in a news release. "A large silversword can produce several thousand viable seeds, which then must take root in the summit's harsh environment. We hope neighbors and visitors alike will come enjoy this incredible sight."

Visitors to Haleakala are reminded to remain on trails to avoid crushing new seedlings or existing roots.

Visitors can also see the silversword's primary pollinator, the yellow-faced bee, which is only found in Hawaii as it pollinates its flowers. The bee is preyed on by non-native ants and wasps, so visitors can help protect this species by not littering and picking up trash.

The park is in its final months of a year-long study to determine the effects of climate change on the Haleakala ahinahina. Visitors can learn more by checking out the greenhouses at the visitor centers at Haleakala.

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