• A view of the cinder desert

    Haleakalā

    National Park Hawai'i

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • No Potable Water Available in Kipahulu

    Due to a leak in the main waterline in Kīpahulu there is no potable water in Kīpahulu for the foreseeable future. The leak was discovered on July 23, 2014 during routine inspections. Visitors should bring their own drinking water.

  • For your safety

    The Summit and Kīpahulu Districts are remote. An ambulance can take up to 45 minutes to arrive at either district from the nearest town. People with respiratory or other medical conditions should also be aware that the summit of Haleakalā is at 10,000 ft.

  • Drive cautiously - Endangered birds land on roadway

    Nēnē (Hawaiian geese) are nesting in the park and may land on or frequent park roads and parking lots. Drivers are reminded to drive at the posted speed limits and exercise caution.

Plants

Haleakala Silverswords
The luminous Haleakala silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum) can live up to 90 years. It flowers spectacularly once in its life and then dies.
NPS Photo
 

Over 850 species of plants are found within the bounds of Haleakala National Park. Of these, over 400 species are native, or arrived without human intervention; over 300 species are endemic to Hawai'i, found only in the islands.

This astonishing diversity reflects the variety of climates and elevations that allowed plants to fill niches from dry alpine deserts to humid, salt-sprayed coastlines. Plant communities formed in some of the most unlikely dry deserts and lush rainforests. Ethereal silverswords, bird-pollinated geraniums, Seussian na'ena'e and mintless mints are a few of the amazing plants that evolved in the unique and diverse environment on Haleakala.

 
A park bio-tech checks a blossom of a Haleakala greensword
A park bio-tech checks a blossom of a Haleakalā greensword--found only on the high mountain bogs at Haleakalā.
Photo by Stephen Montgomery.
 

How could plant life establish and survive on these remote, barren, new islands? Likely a few plants first arrived with seeds drifting in the air, attached to birds, as seeds from fruits eaten by birds, or drifting in seawater. Probably only a tiny sample of continental species got here. Against these overwhelming odds a seed might get here-resisting drying, cold, saltwater-only to land at a site unsuited to its growth. Seemingly successful plant colonists tended to be aggressive, weedy, and capable of surviving in a pioneer habitat such as a lava crack, or a beach, or a bog.

Survivors had only a tiny finite land area to occupy, and only a small fraction of that had a climate, temperature, and exposure suitable niche habitat. These also arrived as only a few individuals, greatly subject to problems of inbreeding. This may have been the greatest problem, for if a species continues to inbreed fatal defects accumulate. Without new individuals to remedy this problem some groups commonly experience many mutations. But over time these mutations allowed successful survivors to establish in the many tiny various microhabitats.

Some mutations were unusual. Many plants of ancestrally small non-woody herbs became large woody shrubs, almost trees. Most arrivals, now not exposed to competition, lost attributes such as thorns, thick bark, poisons, unpalatable tastes or strongly scented oils. This loss of competitiveness recently has exposed native plants to enormous loss when Hawaiians brought pigs and rats, and first Europeans brought cattle, goats and sheep to the Islands. Haleakalā park's staff controls these new competitors, and protects a small remnant of Hawaiʻi's original flora.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

The three Wilderness Cabins at Haleakalā National Park, built of redwood in the 1930s by the CCC, are a popular lodging option for overnight hikers - but must be reserved in advance! More...