Haleakalā National Park extends mauka to makai (mountains to sea)- from 10,023 ft of elevation at the Summit District to sea level at the coastal district of Kīpahulu. This large range of elevation change creates zones with different temperatures, wind speed, and rainfall, thus generating a variety of natural ecosystems that sustain unique plants.
valley with cliffs on either side full of greenery and view down to the ocean
Kaupō gap in the Crater of Haleakalā extends down to the ocean and is a refuge for various native species, including the Koa tree.

NPS Photo/ K. Ferguson

Plant Diversity

Over 850 species of plants are found within the bounds of Haleakalā National Park. Of these, over 400 species are native, or arrived without human intervention; and more than 300 plant species are endemic to Hawaiʻi- found nowhere else in the world.

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 Haleakalā.

silverly low plant with tall blooming stalk and crater in background
ʻĀhinahina bloom once in their life and can produce hundreds of blooms

NPS Photo/ J. Higa

Wind, Wings, Waves

How could plant life establish and survive on these remote, barren, new islands? Likely a few plants arrived with the help of wind, wings (birds), and waves in the ocean carrying seeds long distances. Against these overwhelming odds a seed might arrive 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 fields, beaches, or bogs. It is believed that roughly one plant species was successfully established every 2,500 years.

Most species that arrived found little to no competition on the islands and thus lost attributes such as thorns, thick bark, poisons, and unpalatable tastes or strongly scented oils. This loss of competitiveness has recently exposed their vulnerability to non-native species such as pigs, rats, cattle, goats, sheep, and invasive plant species such as pine trees.

silvery plant with multiple leaves pointing upward in brown cinder

Explore an iconic and endemic species to Haleakalā

white flower with pink lines running down petals and silvery green leaves

Haleakalā is home to 4 species of Hawaiian geraniums

park staff stands and holds tip of pine tree
Invasive Plants

Uncover species threatening the survival of native habitats.

small white flowers in individual pots
Park staff may hike miles to replant species, such as these violets in habitats suitable for their survival.

NPS Photo

Protecting the Native Flora of Haleakalā

Haleakalā staff within resource management work tirelessly to protect and defend the territory of native and endemic Hawaiian species and often use the methods below.
  • Fences: Without control, feral animals such as pigs, goats, and sheep wandering freely in the Hawaiian Islands, were eating, unrooting, and decimating native plants. A fenceline surrounds the park boundary in an attempt to keep these species out.

  • Native species seed collection and propagation: The green house at the Summit District serves as a protected and controlled place to propogate endangered plant species. Under the close care of park staff, native plants like the ‘ōhelo (Vaccinium sp.), ‘āhinahina or Haleakalā silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum), ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha), greensword (Argyroxiphium grayanumand), and many others are grown safely at this facility and replanted in different areas in the park.
  • Extraction of invasive species: Pulling of invasive species can be an effective removal method- at Haleakalā it is used most frequently for pines such as the Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) and Mexican weeping pine (Pinus patula). This method is often used during volunteer events near the entrance to the park and Hosmer Grove.

Last updated: March 9, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Haleakalā National Park
PO Box 369

Makawao, HI 96768


808 572-4400

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