OBJECT OF THE MONTH - November, 2005

Fern (Adenophorus periens)

Adenophorus periens L.E. Bishop UCM-453367

Adenophorus periens is one of the rarest ferns found only on the Hawaiian Islands. It is known by Native Hawaiians as palai la'au. This beautiful species belongs to a genus of 10 species, all of which are thought to have evolved from one initial colonizing ancestor.

Since the Hawaiian Islands rose from the ocean as volcanic molten rock, everything that grows there came from someplace else. Molecular data support the hypothesis that the closest living non-Hawaiian relatives of these ferns occur in the American tropics. We believe then, that spores of the initial colonizing ancestor were blown to the Hawaiian Islands on the northeasterly trade winds.
See this fern and the thoughtful comments it inspired at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History's exhibit webpage, Object Conversations.