Part 24 Lauraceae - Lentibulaceae - Linaceae
Lauraceae, the family that is home to the true laurel (Laurus nobilis), are represented in the islands by four naturalized species, three in the cinnamon genus Cinnamomum, and the common avocado (Persea americana ). One species, Cryptocarya mannii (see image), hölio in Hawaiian, is endemic on the islands of Kaua`i and O`ahu where it grows in dry to mesic forests. I photographed this species on the Nature Trail at the Koke`e Museum.
The remaining species in this list is the small, primarily Southern Hemisphere, parasitic genus Cassytha. Cassytha filiformis is pantropical and grows on a number of different hosts. In the Hawaiian Islands it occurs primarily in coastal areas; I have seen it growing on the western coast of the Big Island (see image). For readers not familiar with Cassytha, but who know what dodder looks like, Cassytha looks roughly like a tree full of dodder. There are several Hawaiian names for Cassytha, the most easily descriptive one likely being kauna`oa pehu, which is translated as swollen dodder, where kauna`oa is the name of common dodder, with pehu, meaning swollen, or coarser in structure. The similarity of Cassytha and dodder is obviously recognized in the language.
The sole representative of the carnivorous Lentibulariaceae, known as the bladderwort family, is Utricularia gibba, which was collected only once on Hawai`i in wet forest a few miles southwest of Hilo on the Stainback Highway. Incidentally, the Stainback Highway was built as an access to the summit of Mauna Loa. The lower part is well paved, but the quality of the surface deteriorates significantly at higher elevations.
Two naturalized species of Linum, the common flax plant, occur in the islands. These are small plants, easily overlooked. I don't recall ever seeing either species, one of which, the European L. bienne is only known from a single site on Maui; and the other, L. trigynum, known only from dry ridges on O`ahu. I have included an image of Linum grandiflorum (see image) which is grown as a decorative plant in the islands.
April 3, 2012