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Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. sandwicense
The Mauna Kea silversword is highly endangered, with the only extant population found on a volcanic mountain on the big island of Hawaii.
The Mauna Kea silversword is extremely well adapted to the severe subalpine climate, where the landscape is so bleak that very few plants can survive. In fact, in the upper range of the alpine desert, where there humidity is nearly 0% and nightly temperatures frequently drop to 0 degrees F, no other plants can grow. These individuals were spotted at altitude 9000+ feet.
The Mauna Kea silversword evolved to protect itself from harsh alpine conditions with highly unusual adaptations such as intracellular water storage in the form of gel.
Spotted on Jan 10, 2013
Submitted on Feb 9, 2013