Animals and Plants of Hawaii and the Pacific Basin
Understory of a native Hawaiian wet forest, Puu Kukui, Maui.
Lobelias in the understory of a native
Hawaiian wet forest, Puu Kukui, Maui. Image: Elizabeth Speith (Public Domain)

Hawaii, due to its geographic isolation and diverse ecosystems, supports one of the most unique assemblages of native plants and animals in the world. Over 90% of the native flowering plants and nearly 99.9% of native invertebrates in Hawaii are endemic, or found nowhere else in the world. The island archipelago is a an unparalleled example of the evolutionary process in action, surpassing even the Galapagos in the adaptive radiation of its native biota.

Unfortunately, Hawaii is also the endangered species capital of the world, with more endangered species per mile than any other place on the planet. Plants and animals are threatened by invasive species, global climate change, and habitat destruction.

Use the resources listed to the left - biological collections, species checklists and species profiles - to learn more about the plants and animals of Hawaii.

Featured Species
ohia lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha)
ohia lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha)
[Image: Forest & Kim Starr, Public Domain]

ohia lehua
Metrosideros polymorpha

Native to the Hawaiian Islands, ohia lehua can grow up to 100 feet tall. It is easily identifiable by its beautiful flowers that can be red, yellow, pink, white or orange. This tree is an important part of wet native forests, but are threatened by ficus and other invasive species. The Hawaiians traditionally used this tree for house posts, kapa dyes and flower lei. [More...]
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