UH's Lyon Arboretum saves rare Native Hawaiian plants

University of Hawaiʻi
Daniel Meisenzahl, (808) 348-4936
Director of Media Production, External Affairs and University Relations
Posted: May 2, 2015

WHAT – Efforts to save Native Hawaiian plant species by collecting, storing and propagating seeds of some of Hawaiʻi’s rarest endangered plants

WHEN – Since 1995

WHERE – The Seed Conservation Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Harold L. Lyon Arboretum


  • Lab currently stores close to 10 million seeds representing more than 550 different species or about 40% of Hawaiʻi’s native plants
  • Over half of the current seed inventory includes threatened or endangered plant species
  • Lab stores largest collection of Native Hawaiian seeds in the world and is one of the only places where remnants of rare Native Hawaiian plant species can be found
  • Propagation and out-planting efforts have saved a number of species from complete extinction
  • Seed storage potential ranges from a few days to 20 years when stored properly
  • Lab conducts research on seed viability and ability for seedlings to grow and survive in the wild

VIDEO SHOT SHEET (1 minute, 32 seconds):

  •  :00 - :04        exterior sign, Lyon Arboretum
  •  :04 - :15        3 clips, seed drying chambers, temperature and humidity controlled
  •  :15 - :31        4 clips, rare plant greenhouse
  •  :31 - :45        4 clips, processing seeds
  •  :45 - :49        growth chamber, seedlings Cyanea grimesiana plants
  • :49 - :58         2 clips, young Cyanea grimesiana plants
  • :58 - 1:11       3 clips, plants in rare plant greenhouse
  • 1:11 - 1:18     Cyanea grimesiana, subspecies grimesiana
  • 1:18 - 1:32     3 clips, team reintroduce plant back into wild at Mānoa Cliff Trail


Kristyn Schuller, Seed Conservation Lab Student Research Assistant (12 seconds)

“It’s great to know that the work we’re doing here makes a difference and we get to take rare and endangered plants that are endemic to Hawaiʻi and then actually germinate them and put them out back in the wild where they belong.”

Marian Chau, Seed Conservation Lab Manager (13 seconds)

So we work with some of the rarest of the rare species, things that most people never even get to see or might not even know about and it’s just a real privilege and just a special thing to be able to work with these rare amazing beautiful plants.”

Tim Kroessig – Seed Conservation Lab Conservation Specialist (12 seconds)

“A lot of these species are endemic to Hawaiʻi, they evolved here in isolation over millions of years, so they’re unique and they’re organisms that are found no where else.”