• A view of the cinder desert


    National Park Hawai'i

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • 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.

  • 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.

Haleakala Silverswords

Juvenile silverswords
Haleakala silverswords ('ahinahina), along a park trail. These individuals are not blooming yet.
NPS photo
Silversword in bloom

Haleakala silversword in full bloom.

NPS Photo

The silvery hairs, fleshy leaves, and low-growing rosette form of the Haleakala silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum) allow it to survive in hot, dry climates like the aeolian desert cinder slopes of the crater. Silverswords live between 3 and 90 years or more. They flower once, sending up a spectacular flowering stalk, and then die soon afterward, scattering drying seeds to the wind.

Delicate silverswords ('ahinahina), once ripped up and taken home by visitors as souvenirs, now depend on management efforts for survival. Park staff fence silversword-munching ungulates out, destroy non-native plants that would crowd out silverswords, and educate park visitors to stay on trails to avoid stepping on fragile silversword seedlings and root systems.

Silversword seed collection

Park biotech Lindsay Moore collects seeds from a flowering Haleakala silversword for propagation. Juvenile silverswords grown in park greenhouses will be outplanted to supplement wild populations.

NPS Photo

Climate change may now present a new threat to these charismatic plants. Hotter temperatures and lower rainfall may threaten even the hardy silversword. Researchers with the University of Hawai'i are actively working with park staff to evaluate the effects of drought conditions on silverswords, and preserve these unique plants for generations to come.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

You pass through as many ecological zones on a two hour drive to the summit of Haleakalā as you would on a journey from Mexico to Canada.