Telegraphweed, Telegraph Weed
Telegraph Weed, an annual to short-lived perennial in the Asteraceae family (Sunflower Family), is originally native to California. It can be found growing near the Visitor Information Station (VIS) on Mauna Kea as well as along the roadway leading from the VIS to the summit. Telegraph Weed is considered an invasive species in Hawaii.
When crushed, the leaves, stems and flowers of Telegraph Weed emit a strong smell of camphor similar to its relative, Heterotheca subaxillaris, also known as Camphor Weed. Tiny, little hairs on the leaves and stems of Telegraph Weed reflect sunlight, and are believed to have evolved to preserve the valuable moisture inside the plant allowing it to grow well even in relatively dry areas like Mauna Kea.
On Mauna Kea’s dry, cindery soils around the VIS at an elevation of around 9000’ Telegraph Weed grows to a maximum height of 3-4’. At lower elevations in its native California, Telegraph Weed is said to reach heights of 6 feet or more.