When you visit Haleakala National Park, keep your eyes peeled for a very special plant, the Haleakala silversword. The silversword is native to Hawaii and its Hawaiian name is Ahinahina which means “very gray”.
The Haleakala silversword is one tough cookie in the plant world. It lives on the slopes and summit of Haleakala where it survives weather conditions ranging from blazing sun to snow storms. The silvery hairs on the leaves reflect sunlight and help conserve moisture while the strong taproot secures the plant in high winds.
Interesting facts about the Haleakala Ahinahina:
- The silversword can live up to fifty years.
- This plant only flowers once in its lifetime.
- Part of the Asteraceae family which is more commonly known as the aster, daisy, or sunflower family
- The Haleakala Ahinahina has a close cousin, the Argyroxiphium sandwicenses, on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.
When you see a silversword:
- Do admire this endangered plant, but don’t get too close.
- Don’t touch it. Though the silversword is tough enough to survive such difficult weather conditions, it’s silvery down-like leaves can be severely damaged by the oil from human skin.
- Don’t tread near the plant as it’s root system is shallow. Stay on designated trails.