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Published on July 1, 2021

Native Spotlight: Wiliwili


Scientific Name: Erythrina sandwicensis

Wiliwili are tough and resilient trees who grow in harsh environments where few species can survive. Wiliwili tree populations can have a variety of different colored flowers or be composed of flowers of a single color. Unlike most Hawaiian tree species, Wiliwili trees are deciduous meaning it will hibernate and lose its foliage during the hottest summer months and return to life during the winter. 

The Wiliwili was saved from extinction six years ago when an unidentified gall wasp wiped out the native Wiliwili population on Maui. The lightweight wood of the Wiliwili tree is used to build canoes, fishing gear containers, and surfboards. It's flowers can also be used to make lei and for medicinal purposes.

At ‘Ahihi-Kina‘u Natural Area Reserve, and on all Division of Forestry and Wildlife lands, conservationists race against time to fence out alien grazing animals while biologists document native plants, invertebrates and birds. Botanists with the Plant Extinction Prevention Program (PEPP) collect seeds of critically endangered species to replant after grazers are gone. When forests are rebuilt, even native birds can be returned.

For more information on ʻAhihi Kinaʻu NAR, visit:

And on Plant Extinction Prevention Program (PEPP):

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