Pōhakuloa Training Area, HAWAII - Beyond its association with military training, the Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) in Hawaiʻi is now also known for its biodiversity. Researchers have identified a new species of pamakani, a shrub from the Tetramolopium genus, solving a botanical mystery that spanned over three decades.
Originally from Australia, pamakani journeyed to Hawaiʻi and evolved into diverse species, reflecting the island's extensive biodiversity. Known for their daisy-like appearance, these shrubs bloom in a spectrum from pure white to deep purple. Over the years, some species thought to be extinct have resurfaced.
The process to define this new Tetramolopium species, initially called Tetramolopium species 1, was not without its challenges. Multiple names were proposed and subsequently rejected over the years. However, in 2015, genetic testing affirmed its unique identity.
This botanical breakthrough not only celebrates the wonders of plant diversity but also emphasizes the U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area's dedication to conservation. Their initiatives, like constructing fences and removing feral animals, were instrumental in preserving this species.
The scientific community eagerly awaited the species' official name, and it's finally here. Published in the Systematic Botany journal, the species has been officially named Tetramolopium stemmermanniae. This finding reinforces the U.S. Army's commitment to preserving Hawaii's exceptional flora.
Tetramolopium stemmermanniae: An Introduction
Recently published in the Systematic Botany journal, the official name, Tetramolopium stemmermanniae, celebrates the discovery of this new species from Pōhakuloa Training Area, Hawai‘i Island. Authored by Evans, Steven A., Hastings, Nancy E., Yorkston, Mitsuko, Morden, Clifford W., and Tembrock, Luke R., the manuscript provides comprehensive details about the species.
The Tetramolopium genus, home to 37 known species found in regions including the Cook Islands, New Guinea, Queensland (Australia), and Hawaiʻi, has now added a distinctive member: Tetramolopium stemmermanniae. This newly described species, endemic to Hawaiʻi Island, stands out with its strigose hairs and unique inflorescences. Both molecular and morphological evidence underline its distinctiveness among other Tetramolopium species in Hawaiʻi.
In 1990, a unique Tetramolopium population was discovered in the saddle region between the Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualālai volcanoes at PTA. Initially mistaken for another species, further examinations revealed its potential as a novel lineage. Genetic analyses reaffirmed its distinct identity.
The research and discovery of Tetramolopium stemmermanniae illuminate the rich biodiversity present in Hawaiʻi and underscore the importance of Army conservation efforts to protect and understand our natural world.