This unusual plant, unique to Haleakala on Maui and Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii, has thoroughly adapted to the harsh environment of its home. What's even more fascinating is that each volcanic mountain has it's own unique type of silversword. The Haleakala species is unique to all the world on Maui and is considered by many to be the most beautiful.
The bloom stalk of the silversword is a true sight to behold, often several feet tall with a hundred or more purple flowers. What makes the blooming of a silversword even more special is that the plants live from 15 to more than 50 years but bloom only once and die. If you see one in bloom, take a moment to realize how unique that opportunity really is.
In the not so distant past on Maui there were so many silverswords on Haleakala they covered the ground like a blanket of snow, but because of livestock and visitors snapping portions for souvenirs, this amazing plant almost became extinct.
In 1927, barely 100 plants were alive on the slopes of Haleakala. It was ultimately the creation of Haleakala National Park that saved the silversword. The protection and work of several dedicated groups have brought them back from that low in 1927 to more than 40,000 today. But even now, the silversword is at risk in its fragile environment, so please let these amazing plants live in peace. Don't touch or even walk near them, as you could damage their very delicate root structures.
More Information: Argyroxiphium (Silverswords) at Wikipedia