Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - ohi'a lehua

The Phactors are on vacation, and when you think about the upper Midwest in late January, it's something like, you don't even want to go there when the weather is good.  So off to the tropics, but with  rather limited time to plan, the destination came up domestic, the Big Island of Hawaii.
Getting from the upper Midwest to Hilo is a long ways, a long trip, but when you have ice and mechanical problems delay the start of your trip 3 hours, bad things happen to the rest of your itinerary. So after missing 2 flights, your original flight from Atlanta to Honolulu, and then the alternate flight you booked to LAX, the final flight to Hilo from LA was caught with maybe 2 minutes to spare. Of course in the process our luggage was taking a day longer to arrive.  A nearly 24 hr travel day with 16 hrs of airplane sitting sort of wears you out. 
After a day to recover the Phactors started at Volcano Nat'l Park by hiking into Kilauea Iki, about 4 miles, about half being rough rock, and climbing the equivalent of 52 flights of stairs (the fitbit only counts going up like going down takes no energy?)

At any rate the dominate tree in the wet forests in this part of the island is the ohi'a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) in the myrtle family. It has clusters of scarlet flowers at the ends of branches.  The red stamen filaments extend out of the flowers forming altogether a pom-pom looking rather a bit like some mimosoid legumes. This put the flowers mostly way up out of reach unless they were on a little seedling hanging on to life in a lava crack at the bottom of the crater. And isn't it annoying how you try to baby some plants to get them to grow, and then this seed lands on a 60 yr old lava field and grows.  Soil augmentation?  What soil?
As you can guess from the flower, this is pollinated by an endemic Hawaiian bird, the equally red, equally attractive, apapane.
So, sorry to miss Friday, but we were just exhausted, and this was a FFF worth the trip. It wasn't the neatest plant TPP found subsisting in the crater's lava field that last erupted in 1959 spewing forth all that lava.  But more on that later.

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