Brighamia insignis

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Brighamia insignis

Extinct in the Wild  (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Campanulaceae
B. insignis
Binomial name
Brighamia insignis
Brighamia insignis is endemic to Hawaii[2]
  • Brighamia citrina (C.N.Forbes & Lydgate) H.St.John
  • Brighamia citrina var. napoliensis H.St.John
  • Brighamia insignis f. citrina C.N.Forbes & Lydgate

Brighamia insignis, commonly known as ʻŌlulu or Alula in Hawaiian,[3] or colloquially as the vulcan palm[4] or cabbage on a stick,[5] is a species of Hawaiian lobelioid in the bellflower family, Campanulaceae. It is native to the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau, but has been extinct in the wild since at least 2019-2020. This short-lived perennial species is a member of a unique endemic Hawaiian genus with only one other species.


Brighamia insignis is a potentially branched plant with a

succulent stem that is bulbous at the bottom and tapers toward the top, ending in a compact rosette of fleshy leaves. The stem is usually 1–2 m (3–7 ft) in height, but can reach 5 m (16 ft).[6] The plant blooms in September through November.[7] It has clusters of fragrant yellow flowers in groups of three to eight in the leaf axils. The scent has been compared to honeysuckle.[7] Petals are fused into a tube 7 to 14 cm (3 to 5+12 in) long. The fruit is a capsule 13 to 19 mm (12 to 34 in) long containing numerous seeds.[8]

Distribution and habitat

Brighamia insignis was found at elevations from sea level to 480 m (1,570 ft) in

B. insignis is now extinct in the wild, having been in decline for many years. In 1994, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reported five populations totaling 45 to 65 individuals, and listed the plant as an endangered species. The last single individual was recorded in the wild in August 2012, and drone surveys in June 2019 and May 2020 found that it, too, had disappeared.[1]

Endangered status

According to the U.S. Botanic Garden, its only pollinator was a certain type of now-extinct hawk moth. This has made it all but impossible for B. insignis to reproduce on its own.[9] Therefore, individuals only produce seed when artificially pollinated by humans.[10]

Other threats to the species have included

hurricanes and landslides;[12] in 1992, the remaining populations on the southeastern coast of Kauaʻi were wiped out by Hurricane Iniki, leaving only the populations on the island's north coast (which themselves continued to decline thereafter).[1]


Despite its rarity in the wild it is not hard to cultivate in a nursery,[12] and it has come into use as a novel ornamental plant.[13]



  1. ^ . Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  2. ^ a b "Brighamia insignis A.Gray". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
  3. .
  4. ^ "Brighamia insignis , Hawaiian palm, Hawaiian vulcan palm, Hawaiian alula, Olulu palm, Cabbage tree, Cabbage on a stick - Shoot". Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  5. ^ USDA Plants Profile
  6. ^ a b "Brighamia insignis". Meet the Plants. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Archived from the original on 2013-06-24. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
  7. ^ a b Hawaiian Native Plant Cultivation Database. University of Hawaii, Manoa.
  8. ^ a b "Brighamia insignis". CPC National Collection Plant Profiles. Center for Plant Conservation. 22 July 2008. Archived from the original on 28 October 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
  9. ^ "Alula, Olulu" (PDF). Hawaii's Species of Greatest Conservation Need: Process and SGCN Fact Sheets. Hawaii Department of Fish and Wildlife. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  10. ^ James Wong (16 January 2016). "Gardens: all hail the vulcan palm | James Wong | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  11. ^ a b "The Nature Conservancy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  12. ^ a b c USFWS. Brighamia insignis Five Year Review. January 18, 2008.
  13. ^ National Tropical Botanical Garden

External links