‘Ie ‘Ie

Freycinetia arborea

The ʻIeʻie (Freycinetia arborea) is a densely branched, brittle, woody climber in the screwpalm family, Pandanaceae, that is endemic to thePacific Islands. ʻIeʻie is found in moist forest on the Hawaiian, Marquesas, Austral, Society, and Cook Islands. It grows into the forest canopy, attaching itself to a host tree using aerial roots. It may also grow as a sprawling tangle on the forest floor. The shiny green leaves have pointed ends and are spiny on the lower side of the midrib and along the edges.

Leaves measure 40–80 centimetres (16–31 in) long and 1–3 centimetres (0.39–1.2 in) wide, and are spirally arranged around the ends of branches.Flowers form on spike-like inflorescences at the end of branches, and are either staminate or pistillate. Staminate spikes are yellowish-white and up to 10 centimetres (3.9 in) in length. Pistillate spikes are 3–4 centimetres (1.2–1.6 in) but elongate to 7.5–9.5 centimetres (3.0–3.7 in) once fruit are produced. Three to four spikes are surrounded by orange-salmon bracts. The fruit is one centimeter (0.39 in) long and contains many 1.5-millimetre (0.059 in) seeds. The bracts and fruit of the ʻieʻie were a favorite food of the ʻōʻū (Psittirostra psittacea), an extinct Hawaiian honeycreeper that was formerly a principal seed dispersal vector for plants with small seeded, fleshy fruits in low elevation forests. It is also a favored food of the ʻalalā (Corvus hawaiiensis), which is currently extinct in the wild.

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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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