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What is a Silversword?

What is a Silversword?

What's a Silversword? Here's the Scoop

Chaminade University of Honolulu's nickname - the Silverswords - refers to flowering, perennial plants found only in the Aloha State. Here are some facts about the rare, beautiful and endangered silversword:
  • The scientific name is Argyroxiphium sandwicense.
  • In the Hawaiian language, the plant's name is 'ahinahina, meaning "very gray."
  • Silverswords adapt to harsh environmental conditions at altitudes between 5,000 and 10,000 feet.
  • They're found on the slopes of Haleakala on Maui and Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island.
  • Silverswords have spiky, metallic-looking leaves that are a silvery light green color.
  • Spectacular, towering blooms can reach up to six feet in length.
  • Although the plants live as long as 50 years, they bloom only once and then die.
  • Silverswords once grew in abundance but nearly became extinct due to animal grazing and souvenir taking.
  • Climate change - including rising temperatures and reduced rainfall - adversely affects the plants, which now receive federal protection.
  • To save the silverswords, botanists cross-pollinate plants, collect seeds and germinate them in greenhouses.
  • Conservationists also install fencing to protect silverswords from animals and humans.

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