In this gallery we trace the life cycle of the silversword with superb photos of all life-stages thanks to the photos of Forest & Kim Starr of the USGS.
Haleakala Silversword - In Pot - Haleakala National Park, Hawaii - November 07, 2001
Photo courtesy of Forest & Kim Starr - U.S. Geological Survey
The Hawaiian silversword is an indigenous plant consisting of a rosette of narrow, pointed (swordlike) leaves densely covered by silver hairs that form a sphere. At some point during its life it sends up a spectacular flowering stalk that can reach six feet in height. Each stalk can produce hundreds of maroon sunflowerlike flower heads.
The Haleakala silversword is found in the crater and outer slopes of Haleakala Volcano from the 6,890 to 9,843-ft elevation. The silversword flowers only once, at the end of its lifetime, produces seeds and then dies. Some plants are known to live 15 years or more.
The Mauna Kea silversword found on the slopes of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii tends to differ from the Haleakala silversword in having a longer, narrower flowering stalk, fewer ray flowers, and longer, narrower, and straighter leaves.