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Habit at Munro Trail, Lanai, Hawaii, USA. April 05, 2007.
Origin and Habitat: Dracaena fernaldii is a species of flowering plant that is endemic to the island of Lānaʻi,United States (Hawaiian Is.)
Altitude range: It grows at elevations of 490–670 metres.
Habitat and ecology: It can be found in in remnant dry forests and on rather steep slopes. It is threatened by habitat loss. 400-1000 of these plants remain in the wild, but little recruitment has been observed in the past 10 years. The reasons for the lack of recruitment are unclear.
- Dracaena fernaldii (H.St.John) Jankalski
Dracaena fernaldii (H.St.John) Jankalski
Sansevieria 18: 20 (2008)
- Dracaena fernaldii (H.St.John) Jankalski
- Chrysodracon fernaldii (H.St.John) P.L.Lu & Morden
- Dracaena hawaiiensis Fosberg
- Pleomele fernaldii H.St.John
- Pleomele lanaiensis O.Deg.
ENGLISH: Lānaʻi hala pepe
HAWAIIAN (ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi): Hala pepe, Leie, Kuhaʻo, Ku la, Halapepe
Description: Dracaena fernaldii, also known as Pleomele fernaldii, is an erect, perennial, herbaceous plant, forming large shrubs or small trees with few dichotomous branches 6-8 m tall. The sessile linear leaves are born in dense rosettes, followed by yellow flowers in terminal pendulous racemes and globose compressed 3-lobed berry. It is cultivated as a garden and indoor ornamental plant.
Derivation of specific name: The specific epithet fernaldii was named by Harold St. John, professor of botany at University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa, in honor of his principal botany teacher, Merritt L. Fernald (1873-1950).
Stems: 5-8 m tall (or more), 1.5-2 dm in diameter at base, the branches few, dichotomous, gray, roughened by the short, raised int,ernodes; youngest branchlets just below the foliage, 12 mm in diameter, pale yellowish brown, half ringed by the pale, transversely linear leaf-scars.
Leaves: Medium to dark Green glabrous (without hairs), spirally arranged, spaced along distal part of stems, sessile. Lamina sword-shaped to tongue-like, more or less leathery, 12-21 cm long, 9-14 mm wide. Margins paler and cartilaginous.
Inflorescence: Terminal, solitary, paniculate, usually recurved and pendulous. Peduncle 8-10 cm long, 7-8 mm in diameter, with leafy-bracts. Panicle 25-32 cm long, 12-20 cm in diameter. Rachis glabrous. Pedicels 4-12 mm long.
Flower: Showy yellowish-green or greenish-yellow. Perianth tube 15-19 mm long sub-cylindrical constricted in the middle 5-7 mm in diameter. Perianth lobes 9-11 mm long. Filaments exerted, 10-11 mm long, , anthers 3.5- 4 long, pale-yellow. Ovary obovoidal green, stile 23 mm long thread-like, stigma truncate, minutely 3-lobed.
Fruits (berries): Bright red and roundish somewhat depressed, (one-)two- or three-lobed, 5-10 mm long, 10-17 mm in diameter, pulp fleshy, skin cartilaginous.
Seeds: Globose 4-8 mm in diameter pale brown.
Phenology: Flowering spring; fruiting in summer.
Similar species: It seems this species most resembles Dracaena aurea and Dracaena forbesii and was erroneously attributed to them by early botanists. Petals are slight to fully recurved (folded back), unlike some other species such as Dracaena aurea, Dracaena forbesii and Dracaena halapepe, which are slightly or not at all recurved.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Forest & Kim Starr “Pleomele fernaldii (Halapepe)”. Plants of Hawaii. <http://www.starrenvironmental.com>. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
2) World Conservation Monitoring Centre 1998. Pleomele fernaldii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 January 2015.
3) “Hala pepe, Leie, Kuhaʻo, Ku la". Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database. Bernice P. Bishop Museum. http://www2.bishopmuseum.org
4) Wikipedia contributors. "Pleomele fernaldii." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 Jun. 2013. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
5) Native Plants Hawaii. “Chrysodracon fernaldii” Web. 19 Jan. 2015. <http://nativeplants.hawaii.edu/plant/view/Pleomele_fernaldii>
6) Harold St. John "Pleomele fernaldii (Liliaceae), A New Species from the Hawaiian Islands," pages 39-42, and Plate III.
7) J. Juvik, J. DeLay, M. Merlin, M. Castillo, L. Perry, K. Kinney "Endangered Plants and Threatened Ecosystems on the Island of Hawaiʻi" page 30.
8) Harold St. John, "Monograph of the Hawaiian Species of Pleomele (Liliaceae)," pages 171-189.
9) George C. Munro "The Strory of Lānaʻi", pages
10) Rev. Kaluna M. Kaʻaiakamanu "Native Hawaiian Medicine--Volume III" , pages 47-48.
11) Hawaiian Dictionaries online http://www.wehewehe.org
12) Pei Luen-Lu and Clifford W. Morden "Phylogenetic Relationships among Dracaenoid Genera (Asparagaceae: Nolinoideae) Inferred from Chloroplast DNA Loci", pages 91, 101.
Cultivation and Propagation: Dracaena fernaldii (Pleomele fernaldii) is drought tolerant and adaptable but seldom cultivated as an ornamental tree for parks, gardens, but has the potential to become a beautiful native plant replacing he much used money tree (Dracaena marginata) seen in Hawaiian landscapes today. It will grow in warm subtropical or tropical climates and prefers dry conditions. It appears to be easy-to-grow and rewarding and establish at low elevations with very little extra care or watering required. But young plant are happy growing indoors.
Growth rate: It grows slowly, but well worth the effort.
Soils: Need very well drained soils. Give the plant an airy growing medium consists of non organic material such us clay, pumice, lava grit, and peat or leaf-mould. It like quite small pots, repott in very later winter, early spring. It will be content in its position and with its soil for years.
Fertilizing: Fertilizers can be used in light amounts. Apply general garden fertilizer (10-30-10) including all micro nutrients and trace elements or slow release fertilizer to the planting bed at 3-month intervals during growing season, and to container plants at bimonthly intervals.
Exposure: Full or partial sun. In its natural habitat the Lānaʻi hala pepe (D. fernaldii) can be found in bright light to full sun conditions.
Water Requirements: This Dracaena does best with waterings when dry. Water regularly during the active growing season from March to September, but do not overwater this plant. No water should ever be allowed to stand around the roots. Keep quite dry in winter.
Hardiness: This spurge has tolerated temperatures down to –0ºC. However it can be difficult to get it to look its best without a good amount of heat and sun and so it is only really suited to the tropics (USDA Zones 10-11). Keep the plant cooler in winter, but maintain the light as bright as you can so that any growth which it may produce at this time will not be etiolated. It can be grown outdoors in the summer months to benefit from direct exposure to light, and especially exposure to high summer temperatures.
Wing tolerance: Has a good wind tolerance. Only downside is from very strong winds, the plants may smash to to the ground... best to plant in such a location where winds are not a big issue.
*Pest & Disease: Hala pepe is prone to scale and root chewing arthropods attack young plants. Corn worms attack roots. Also root rot and Cyrcospora fungal crown rot. Too much much water can cause fungal rot and kill the plant. It needs dry conditions to avoid rot.
Pruning: None necessary, except to remove dead lower leaves and spent fruit stems (panicles). Drastic pruning usually disfigures the plant.
Garden uses: The extraordinary appearance of this tree ensures it a place in parks and large gardens wherever there is a suitable dry tropical climate. It also cultivated as specimen plant; and large container plant with dramatic sword-like foliage. It is very drought resistant but susceptible to frost. It makes a good house plants for a Dracaena, though recommend higher light if possible.
Early Hawaiian Use:
Medicinal: Early Hawaiians used the leaves in bathing and steam baths for chills (liʻa), headaches, fever, and thought to stop burning temperature or sensation.
Religion: The soft wood was used by early Hawaiians to make idols and to decorate altars.
Modern Use: Leaves and flowers are used in lei making today.
Propagation: Seeds. The seeds must be removed from the fleshy fruits. Best results are obtained with fresh seed. Plant the seeds in shallow containers in a quick draining mixture and cover the seeds with green sphagnum moss. Remove most of the moss when the seeds begin to germinate. Keep the containers in a covered, shaded area to protect them from rain damage. The seeds germinate in 2 to to 6 months, and the germination rate is usually only 5 to 10%. The seeds rot easily if the medium is too moist or if not pre-treated with fungicide. Transplant as soon as possible. Fresh Pleomele seeds lose viability when stored. If seeds must be stored, the cleaned, air dried seed should be put in an paper bag or envelope and placed in an airtight container with desiccant.
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