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    (Click here to return to Plants & Creatures)

    Common Name:Māmane (maa-ma-knee)
    Māmane Tree
    Scientific:Sophora chrysophylla
    Flower Color:Yellow
    Size:Up to 50 feet high
    Habitat:High altitude up to the tree line

    The Māmane tree is native tree that is currently endangered and is in the process of being reforested.

    The Māmane grows at high altitudes and can be found all the way up to the tree line on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. There are also easily accessible trees at Kīpuka Nēnē on the Hilina Pali Scenic Drive.

    If Māmane were to disappear from Hawai'i it would take with it the Palila bird, which is also endangered due to the lack of enough Māmane trees. The Palila bird, a Hawaiian Honeycreeper, nests in the Māmane tree and also eats the small yellow seeds from the Māmane pods. While the Palila also eats some berries and insects its main diet are the Māmane seeds.

    The original loss of Māmane trees was due to ranch cattle stomping the roots of the tree and thus killing the tree. Fire is also a culprit as the trees grow in the higher and dryer areas that are often prone to wildfires. More recently a disease has been identified that kills off Māmane trees. However, despite all of this the Māmane tree continues to thrive and is actively being reforested by concerned groups trying to protect both the tree and the Palila bird.

    Uses for the Māmane in Ancient Hawai'i
      The wood of the Māmane was used for tools such as digging sticks ('ō'ō), spades, runners for sleds and building material for important houses.

    Branch with flowers

    Close up of leaves

    Close up of flowers

    4-Winged seed pods

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    All images and content, unless otherwise indicated, are © 2004-2021 InstantHawaii / David Cook
    Nene photo in top graphics by Brenda Zaun