Preservation Efforts

Po’ola or laukea (Kaua’i name only) (Claoxylon sandwicense) is one of those Hawaiian species that has an intriguing long-distance voyaging story to tell. The details of this voyage to Hawai’i from the heart of the Old World tropics, where most of the other Claoxylon species reside, remain a mystery.

Besides the single, native Hawaiian species, po’ola, the great majority of the other 60-70 species of the genus Claoxylon are native to distant islands such as New Guinea and the Philippines. The nearest representatives of the genus are mountain plants in the forests of Samoa and Rapa Iti, thousands of miles from Hawai’i.

At Auwahi, po’ola are rare, perhaps in part due to their soft-wooded habit which makes it susceptible to damage by non-native grazing animals. Whatever the reason, by the time restoration efforts began at Auwahi some 23 years ago, po’ola had faded to just a handful of plants across the dryland forests of southern Haleakala.

Because of po’ola’s rarity on Maui, we at the Auwahi project are especially excited by a gift of just over two dozen po’ola seedlings from Martha Vockrodt-Moran and the other good-hearted people at DT Fleming Arboretum ( The po’ola at the arboretum were collected from Auwahi forest decades ago by Martha’s grandfather, an early dedicated conservationist, both whom we sincerely thank for their efforts to help save Hawaiian dry forest species.

Coordination between botanical gardens like DT Fleming Arboretum and wildland restoration projects like Auwahi offers hope that Hawai’i’s future can still be adorned with some of the original Hawaiian species that preceded us by millions of years and have come from so far.
mahalo no,
Auwahi Forest Restoration Project ‘ohana


January 23, 2017  January 2017 Arboretum Inventory & Job Description

January 2017 Arboretum Inventory [PDF]
Inventory as an Excel file
Job Description by Bob Hobdy


1/15/2017  Maui County Planting Plan is Arborist’s Legacy

Click to read full article

December 2016- Quarantine inspectors  do their  best to  protect Hawaii from disease and  predators
Click here to read article



The Fleming Arboretum at this time has the only seeding Melicope knudsenii , Hibiscus brackenridgei /Lanai and 3 Kokia cookei individuals in existence.
We are busy each spring making air layer and graft copies. Cookie flowers are hand pollinated to prevent inbreeding. New plants are out planted into Puu Mahoe and distributed to our conservation partners.

Read the Report Here




June 2015 -Native Trees at the D.T. Fleming Arboretum Nominated Exceptional


Before the arrival of the Hawaiians and their farming, this Loulu Palm species - Pritchardia arecina, populated the isthmus of Maui. The isthmus was cleared to grow Pili grass for roofing material and sweet potato. The Loulu Palms in the D.T. Fleming Arboretum, nominated as exceptional trees, were planted in 1952 by the Arboretum's founder David Thomas Fleming.
Before the arrival of the Hawaiians and their farming, Loulu Palms populated the isthmus of Maui. The isthmus was cleared to grow Pili grass for roofing material and sweet potato. The Loulu Palms in the D.T. Fleming Arboretum, nominated as exceptional trees, were planted in 1952 by the Arboretum’s founder David Thomas Fleming.
This Halapepe- Chrysodracon auwahiensi is one of the 8 trees in the D.T. Fleming Arboretum nominated as a Maui County Exceptional Tree. It is an original planting by David Thomas Fleming in 1952, 21 feet tall with a 3 feet diameter trunk. Halapepe seed from the Fleming Arboretum are distributed annually for propagation to private and public conservation groups, including Maui Nui Botanical Garden for Arbor Day.
This Halapepe- Chrysodracon auwahiensi is one of the 8 trees in the D.T. Fleming Arboretum nominated as a Maui County Exceptional Tree. It is an original planting by David Thomas Fleming in 1952, 21 feet tall with a 3 feet diameter trunk. Halapepe seed from the Fleming Arboretum are distributed annually for propagation to private and public conservation groups, including Maui Nui Botanical Garden for Arbor Day.

Ulupalakua- The Board of Directors of the D.T.Fleming Arboretum at Pu‘u Mahoe are pleased to announce that eight trees from the Arboretum have been accepted as exceptional trees by the Arborist Committee of Maui County. This is the beginning of a process that recognizes trees as exceptional for their historic or cultural value and represents a community resource. A tree may be deemed exceptional for its age, rarity, location, size, or beauty. The Arborist Committee is a citizen advisory committee that looks out for the welfare of trees in our community. The committee recommends new nominations to the Mayor and Council who make the final decision for the exceptional tree designation.
The eight trees represent four species which are native to the Hawaiian Islands: 2 Loulu Palms- Pritchardia arecina and Pritchardia forbesiana, 2 Halapepe- Chrysodracon auwahiensi, and 4 Koki’o- Kokia cookei, 4 of the only 5 individuals of Kokia cookei in existence.
The nominations join the five native trees that were previously recognized as exceptional growing at the D.T.Fleming Arboretum within the cinder cone of Pu‘u Mahoe.

The Fleming Arboretum has 4 of the 5 individual Kokia cookei- 3 individuals from seed and one copy (graft on Kokia drynarioides) of the mother tree growing in the Waimea Arboretum, Oahu. —Click to enlarge

May 2015- Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) Conservation Report

By Hank Oppenheimer

PEP work at the D.T. Fleming Arboretum Puu Mahoe (PM) May 2014 to May 2015

We did some hand pollination of the Kokia cookiei, and will continue in 2015. Some seed was produced, with the plants destined to go back to Moloka`i, where it’s from.

Monitored the alani spp.: Melicope adscendens and the M. knudsenii plantings.

Planted 10 new ko`oko`olau (Bidens micrantha subsp. kalealaha; Endangered; source: Kula FR). I think this was planted before, but maybe only 1 left?

Planted 4 ahakea lau li`i (Bobea sandwicensis; Species of Concern; source: Kahikinui)

Collected seeds from the Gardenia brighamii. Even though the founder tree cannot be identified, this is a PEP target on Lana`i and O`ahu where the only living trees remain. There has been some discussion about storing seeds properly of this species in particular and Rubiaceae in general, so it was good to provide some “play money”.

Added 3 new Mahoe (Alectryon macrococcus var. auwahiensis; Endangered; source: Auwahi). Have not been able to trace the parent tree that is already at PM. It seems to be a male, which is not surprising because most Mahoe seem to be male, no matter the variety or island. One of the 3 new seedlings died already which is unfortunate as this one represented one of the founders with very few seedlings available. They need to be put on the drip system.

Also sent into storage some seeds from the upper Ma`o hau hele. These plants are several generations removed from the wild, but I don’t think there is any material in storage from the Pu`u O Kali population, which is decimated.

Provided some new Bonamia menziesii (Endangered) to increase the genetic diversity at PM.

On May 16th, 2015 at the Director’s annual Site Visit / Picnic / Meeting at the Arboretum , Directors & friends ALL planted some kupala-Sicyos hillebrandii after the meeting- of the Cucurbitaceae, cucumber family.


March 2015- Innovation in Conservation

MemorialRainSimulatorDuane669Ulupalakua- Rain simulators have been installed in the Fleming Arboretum within the Pu‘u Mahoe cinder cone of Ulupalakua to attract native birds and wildlife. The simulators attached to the top of three large native trees broadcast a rain-like spray spaning12 feet in diameter, to host wildlife such as birds, bees, and butterflies that symbiotically benefit the Arboretum’s native trees by pollinating the flowers creating viable diverse seed.

Along with the ongoing planting of native plant species to provide nectar, fruit and seed, the Arboretum’s large 62 year old trees provide safe shelter and nesting areas. A clean dependable water source completes the bird’s habitat needs.

Dr Fern Duvall assisted in the timer adjustments to four times a day for three minutes. He noted birds will learn the timer settings, set at 8AM, noon, 2PM & 4PM. Birds, Duvall said, are most active mornings and late afternoons. The set times will allow time each day for thirsty birds to fly from Polipoli Forest and other forest areas of South Maui during dry times. ‘Amakihi live within the Pu‘u Mahoe cinder cone. ‘Apapane and ‘I‘iwi have been sited. Though Duvall said birds are not territorial during drinking, the simulators are spaced apart throughout the 17 acre Arboretum.

Image: Photography by Evan Sparkman

Caption: Duane Sparkman, landscape and irrigation installation professional, stands under a rain simulator he installed in an Ohia tree in the Fleming Arboretum.

“It is exciting to spy on the birds during a rain setting. It is a party in the trees!” said project director Martha Vockrodt-Moran. “They bathe in the flurry and then when the rain stops, hop around the branches drinking water droplets running down the leaves.”

The rain simulators were designed to replace the Arboretum birdbaths that need servicing daily. There is a concern that bird baths could spread disease if a sick bird shares the bath. Another problem is drowning even with rocks in the bird bath for landing areas. The rain simulators provide clean water regularly for safe bathing and drinking. Duvall noted that other forest conservation areas do not have a water source or infrastructure to deliver water. This is the first he has seen. He confirmed the rain simulators are an “innovation in conservation”.

The rain simulators were installed in memory and honor of James Hunt Fleming (1933 -2014), grandson of D.T. Fleming. Jim as a teenager helped DT plant and water the young trees. Jim and family have been strong supporters of the Arboretum.

The simulators were installed by professional landscaper and friend Duane Sparkman, manager of Westin Hotels landscaping. Sparkman chose quiet 360% stationary sprinklers that sound and look like rain.a

The Fleming Arboretum is regularly available for tours the last or 4th Saturday of each month. Other Saturdays can be arranged on request. Visit the Arboretum website at www.fleming for more information.



September 2012

The first sighting of the rare Apapane at the Fleming Arboretum at Pu’u Mahoe was observed by the Native Hawaiian Plant Society on a volunteer work day in September. Dr Fern Duvall, wildlife biologist for Maui Nui, said the bird found its way most likely by the smell of the many fragrant native Hibiscus in bloom.

The Apapane now joins the growing list of native wildlife at Pu’u Mahoe. Amakihi, the Hawaiian bat, and the two native butterflies are commonly seen feeding from and pollinating the native plants in the Arboretum.

Hawaii’s oldest and largest arboretum continues to expand, out-planting larger populations of existing rare species for genetic diversity and enhanced cross pollination, as a valuable seed bank for native plant preservation. New species are out-planted for a more complete collection of Maui’s dry-land forest species, restoring the native habitat of Pu‘u Mahoe. The Apapane arrival gives inspiration to all those involved in the ongoing work to conserve not only native plants but the function of the native ecosystem on the slopes of Haleakala.

For information on volunteering visit

Photo caption: Photo of Apapane feeding on Sandalwood nectar by Bob Bangerter

Click to enlarge


January 2010

Photo by Bob Bangerter

June 2009

Two Alani seedlings from the Fleming Arboretum were given to the State to be planted in the Natural Area Reserve in Kaniao .From one of the Arboretum’s rarest trees, the only seed producing Alani (Melicope knudsenii) in existence. there are today 39 healthy seedlings due to the work of FOFA. In 2005 was the first  propagation and out. planting in 55 years of this species on the brink of extinction. Seedlings have been out-planted back into th. Alani’s home of originÑthe Auwahi Forest. FOFAÕs success is an inspiration for those who for years have been leading the often futile battle to preserve endangered species.(Valerie Monson  -The Maui News)..

June 2009

Fleming Arboretum Seedlings help restore the Kula State Forest after 2007 fire

(click to enlarge)

Seedlings of `Ohe (Tetraplasandra Hawaiensis) from the Fleming Arboretum have been planted by the DLNR to restore the Kula Forest Reserve after a 2,300 acre fire in 2007. Photos by Lance De Silva/DLNR

FOFA is committed to supplying the ongoing need of native dry-land forest plants for private and public out-plantings, and reforestation for native habitat and watershed restoration.

November 2008

Anna propagates many of the Fleming Arboretum’s rarest seed Anna Palomino is owner of Hoolawa Farm in Haiku, Maui’s largest native plant nursery. Anna also manages the Olinda Rare Plant Recovery Facility in Olinda.
FOFA has restored the infrastructure and health of the D.T. Fleming Arboretum: propagating out-planting and distributing its seeds throughout Hawai`i for the survival of Hawai`i’s rare native species and the restoration of Maui’s native dry-land forests. The Arboretum continues to expand, out-planting larger populations of existing rare species for genetic diversity and enhanced cross pollination, as a valuable seed bank for preservation. New species are out-planted for a more complete collection of Maui’s dry-land forest species, restoring the native habitat of Pu`u Mahoe.“It is expected native wildlife, such as birds and insects, will arrive and use the new biodiversity at the Arboretum.This will allow us to conserve not only the plants, but the function of the ecosystem.”— Dr. Fern Duvall, wildlife biologist for Maui Nui

N.Robert Wagstaff, nationally acclaimed wildlife artist [], has donated his images for our website to illustrate some of the native wildlife seen at the Fleming Arboretum.

Pueo, the Hawaiian Owl (Asio flammeus sandwichensis), is an `Aumakua or guardian spirit in Hawaiian culture. It is good luck to have a Pueo cross your path

Blackburn Butterfly (Udara blackburnii) is one of the only two butterflies native to Hawai`i. It is blue to blue-purple, hard to distinguish from a small moth until it lands, its wings held upright as do butterflies, showing the lime green under its wings. (Hint: upper right.)

`Amakihi (Loxoos vivens). First you hear the “tseet,” then you see branches moving. It is a yellow-green bird with a slightly curved beak searching for fruit, nectar and insects, an endemic honeycreeper.

Kamehameha Butterfly (Vanessa temeamea). “If there is Mamaki, there will be the Kam-ehameha Butterfly,” both native to Hawaii. The caterpillars feed on the leaves at night. Mamaki is a shrub traditionally used for making tapa and medicine.


MAY 2007

Currently threre are only 2 mature Alani (Melicope knudsenii) in existence – one grows wild in Maui’s Auwahi Forest, the other grows at Pu’u Mahoe in the D.T. Fleming Arboretum.

The Pu’u Mahoe Alani is the only one that has produced viable seeds.


Photos of the  two Alani seedlings outplanted into Auwahi on  May 26, 2007


by Martha Vockrodt-Moran

The health of the Arboretum trees have improved since Project Mulch in 2006.

Leaf annalysis in 2007 indicated,tho mulch has many benefits, mulch may not provide all nutrients needed if there are nutrient deficiencies in the soil.

Curled, deformed leaves on the Alani suggested some deficiency of a trace element.Insects were ruled out.

The soil test of arboretum soil shows soil “moderately low” in calcium, sulfur, potasium and “low” in zinc.

Thanks to the excellent advice of Ernest Rezents, Maui’s lead horticulturalist, gypsum was top-dressed to all Arboretum trees in April, supplying calcium and sulfur.

We were fortunate to have a light rains that week to water in the gypsom. Within only a week, new leaves grew from the Alani, the Alani seedlings and other species in the Arboretum.They were amazingly large, green and showed no deformity.

In 2004, gypsum had been applied to the Alani for curled leaves. It helped. With the obvious positive effect of calcium and sulfur, therefore deficiency, once again in 2007, we plan to top dress gypsum annually.

Ernest also suggested to feed the Arboretum trees with a slow release ,low phosphorus fertilizer to correct the low nitogen, potasium and zinc. He advised to apply this a couple months after the gypsum application since calcium and phosphorus confict with each other.

In July, all Arboretum trees have been top dressed with slow-release, low-phosphorus fertilizer that includes nitrogen, zinc and potasium.

We hope for a strong healthy flowering this winter for a great crop of seed of our rare species for propagation and distribution.


Photo by Duane Sparkman

Photo by Duane Sparkman

Preservation Efforts by  the Auwahi Restoration Group. Photo on the left of outplanting into the 20-acre enclosure in Auwahi,  November 2006. Photo on right is taken 6 months later, May 2007.

July 2006

Richard Nakagawa grafted 4 Alani scions from Pu’u Mahoe onto Alani seedlings, using the step-graft method. We hope to supply both Auwahi and Pu’u Mahoe’s D.T Fleming Arboretum with young trees of the Pu’u Mahoe Alani.This project is research to see how easily the Melicope takes to grafting, and also practice for successful grafting with Auwahi Alani scions.

June 2005

Following are Rare and Endangered species of South Maui in the Fleming Arboretum. At this time we are out-planting into the Arbotetum larger populations of each of these species for stronger genetics and good cross-pollination. The goal is for the Arboretum to be a strong seed-bank for these species. (* denotes species at this time producing seed for propagation and distribution)
  • A’e-Zanthoxylum hawaiiense-Endangered
  • * Alani-Melicope knudsenii-Endangered
  • *’Awikiwiki-Canavalia pubescens-Canidate
  • * Bonamia menziesii-Endangered
  • * Holei-Ochrosia haleakalae-Canidate
  • ‘Iliahi-Santalum freycinetianum-Endangered
  • * Kamanomano-Cenchrus agrimonioides-Endangered
  • Kauila-Colubrina oppositifolia-Endangered
  • * Kauila-Alphitonia ponderosa-Endangered[?]
  • Kului-Nototrichium humile-Endangered
  • Mahoe-Alectryon macrococcus-Endangered
  • * Ma’o hauhele-Hibiscus brackenridgei[Puu Kali]- Endangered
  • * Nehe-Melanthera kamolensis-Endangered
  • ‘Ohai-Sesbania tomentosa-Endangered
  • * Stenogyne angustifolia-Endangered
The endangered Alani (Melicope knudsenii) the last viable
tree in existence. For preservation of the species, time is critical.

Preservation Efforts Of the Alani

June 4, 2005
At this time there are 8 Alani seedlings planted in the Fleming Arboretum and, and, 8 in Auwahi next to the only other Alani and the last in the wild. All were propagated from Pu’u Mahoe Alani seed.Click for articles appearing in the The Maui News or Honolulu
announcing this grand event.Hopefully in the near future there will be seedlings from both Auwahi and Pu’u Mahoe trees for cross-pollination to avoid inbreeding.Distribution is also important for survival. We invite any of Hawaii’s arboretums as well other qualified recipients to plant Alani seedlings. The best planting locations would be plantings on the island’s leeward side at the approximate elevation of the existing trees (2600
to 3500 ft).From the Big Island: Peter Van Dyke of the Greenwell Arboretum at Capt Cook and Ailene Yeh from the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center in Hilo have seedlings to distribute. Most likely seedlings not planted on the Big Isle will be will be hand- carried to Maui via air plane.

September 22, 2004
Request for Annual Research Report
Alani Seed Recipients:
The website was created, most importantly, to share research efforts of the Alani – Melicope knudsenii.
Your research info will streamline future propagation efforts.It has been a year since 1,200 seeds were mailed to thirty of Hawaii’s top nurseries and research labs along with two leading labs in the USA, the University of Kentucky and the USDA Seed Storage Lab in Colorado. I hope all seed recipients will take the time to email their annual report to the website sharing your propagation efforts.Please include:- propagation methods germination time percent germination- fertilizers fungicides insecticidesAs well as problems and your solutions with growing seedlings, condition and number of seedlings today. Digital photos and future plans for seedling would also be interesting.August was harvest for mature Alani seed. We harvested 350 seeds compared to 1,200 last year. The wind took many young seed in January. Then in June, many premature seed dropped from the tree……..possibly due to the unusual and extreme wet summer months.Hopefully, the rest will help the Alani with a prolific year in 2005. Meanwhile, we have seed to mail out. Please express your interest. Looking forward to your updated information in the website. Email to: along with seed requests.At this time there are five (5) Alani seedlings outplanted into the Fleming Arboretum. Anna Palomino of Hoolawa Farms and Dan Judson of Orchids of Olinda have proved the possibility of success. (See website for reports.)I am hoping for more seedlings planted into the arboretum, as well as outplantings into fenced enclosures in Auwahi. These enclosures are managed by the Native Plant Society and the Auwahi Reforestation Project. Please let me know if you have seedlings available.Thank you for your time, care, nursery space, and contributing your expertise to this important mission….to keep the Alani – Melicope knudsenii from extinction.


Martha Vockrodt-Moran,
President, FOFA

December 9, 2003

Notification of website to seed recipients
David Moran harvests Alani seeds with a pole picker (August ’03).

Alani Seed Recipients:

A website has been created,, which, among other things, will be used to collaborate the ongoing propagation research of the Alani Melicope knudsenii. Please E-mail your propagation efforts and findings to so it can be posted.

I hope all Alani seed recipients will participate. I hope methods, experiments, problems and concerns, failures and successes with natural propagation will be documented. The research information  should cover from mature seed to strong seedling ready to outplant.

Not until 2003 has there been enough mature seed to distribute to so many qualified recipients. Time is critical. It appears that 2004 will not be such a prolific year for Alani seed. I am hoping this website will streamline future propagation efforts. I would appreciate any suggestions to make this website a success.

Our website will carry the Friends of the DT Fleming
Arboretum newsletter in color, feature work of photographers (
and most importantly centralize propagation research of the Alani. Please E-mail your reports to (

Past germination has taken six months. This year’s seedlings are emerging in three months! Damping off may be the biggest problem at this time. Systemic fungicides and fungicide drenches have been used to grow the seedlings out of this vulnerable state. Hopefully, future research on humidity, light, temperature, soil and mycorrhizas will succeed on growing the Alani naturally.

We have the best botanists, nurserymen and researchers in Hawaii participating in this project, as well as researchers at the University of Kentucky and at the USDA Seed Storage Laboratory in Fort Collins. I am hoping this website will be a valuable aid and inspiration for success.

We look forward to receiving your reports. Please E-mail them to  ( so they can be posted on the website.


Martha Vockrodt-Moran

D.T. Fleming Arboretum

August 2003
Letter mailed out with seed harvest

There is one viable Alani, Melicope knudsenii, in existence. It is growing in the D.T. Fleming Arboretum. There are ten seedlings from 2002 propagation efforts, five from micro-propagation and five from natural mature seed propagation. Nellie Sugii, of Lyon Arboretum’s Micro-propagation Lab, has received shipments of green seeds this year at different stages of development, experimenting with the best age for micro-propagation. Nellie has reported that the seeds this year are especially strong and viable.There should be some success stories in propagation efforts with three times last year’s harvest at approximately 1200 mature seeds. Mature seeds have been mailed to 16 nurseries throughout the Hawaiian
Islands, as well as to the University of Kentucky for germination experiments and to the USDA Seed Storage Lab in Fort Collins, Colorado for seed storage research. Propagation methods will be documented and information on successes, as well as failures, shared. This information will help guide future propagation efforts.

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