Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This Week in Nature:The 1st week in November - Hawaiian pepperwort

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 1st week in November (Welehu):

A Welehu ka malama, noho i Makali'i.
Li 'ili 'i ka hana.

The month of Welehu is ruled by the Pleiades.
Work is done a little at a time.

Hawaiians reckoned the beginning of Welehu and of the rainy season from the date when the Pleiades, or Makali'i, rise at sunset - as they will this week. Work is limited by the storms and by kapu related to Makahiki. Another proverb says, "Rest the head on the pillow; Welehu is the month."

On O'ahu, at Koko Head and Lualualei Valley, winter rains cause sprouting of 'ihi'ihi-lau-ākea, the Hawaiian pepperwort (Marsilea villosa). Superbly adapted for life in normally arid areas, this aquatic native fern goes dormant in dry weather, dying back into fuzzy, rust colored runners and spore capsules that lie waiting to germinate. With rain, the runners put up shoots that resemble four-leaf clover, carpeting the ground in emerald green. If the rain is heavy enough to form a pool, spore capsules will awaken from their decades of slumber and release spores within half an hour. 

For more about this plant species, visit the Hawaii Ecosystems At Risk (HEAR.org) info page. View photos of Marsilea villosa at Forest and Kim Starr's searchable photo gallery.

To see additional photos of the Hawaiian pepperwort, visit the University of Hawaii botany webpage.

Taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events"
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989

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