First Photo: Blooming silverswords, or 'ahinahina, found only on Haleakala, are shown along the Sliding Sands Trail in the Haleakala Crater. "Long-term residents and park staff say this is one of the best years they've seen for flowers up here," said Superintendent Natalie Gates. A large silversword can produce thousands of viable seeds, which take root in the harsh environment of the 10,000-foot summit of Haleakala, she said. Hikers should stay on the trails to protect the roots and seedlings of the threatened plants, she said. The unique plants live between 3 and 90 years and die soon after flowering. "We hope neighbors and visitors alike will come enjoy this incredible sight," said Gates. Visitors can view the blooming silverswords at the Kalahaku Overlook, on the 4- to 6-mile round trip into the summit basin on the Sliding Sands Trail, at the Haleakala Visitor Center, and in greenhouses near the Headquarters Visitor Center. The park currently is in the final months of a yearlong study to determine the possible effects of climate change on the silversword.
POLLY ANGELAKIS photo