Expert botanists are stunned, with one declaring "the age of discovery is not over," after a new flowering plant has been found in Hawaii that appears to be the only one in existence.
Botanist Hank Oppenheimer and his colleague Jennifer Higashino discovered a large, isolated plant in an "ohia forest" along the slopes of Helu. The site is above the city of Lahaina. Upon investigation, they were unable to classify the flowering plant amongst any other known in that region or beyond.
"Only one individual of the new species, named Cyanea heluensis, is currently known from a remote location in West Maui," read a Christmas Eve press release from Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Experts said the plant resembled another called the "hãhã," but the new discovery's flowers, which resemble "uncooked French fries," were certainly unique.
Cyanea heluensis has now been added to the state's plant extinction prevention program managed by the University of Hawaii.
"Since being found, numerous surveys using ropes to access steep cliffs have failed to locate any more individuals, making the conservation of the only known plant critically important," the group said.
In a desperate effort to preserve the one known plant, botanists have returned to the site searching for "seeds that could be grown offsite."