Archive for the ‘native plants’ Category

Saving ‘ohi‘a lehua

By
May 30th, 2016



ohialehuaDLNR

New signs created by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources are aimed towards educating hunters, hikers, mountain bikers and others visiting state public lands about Rapid ‘Ohi‘a Death.

Anya Tagawa and Jeff Bagshaw of othe DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife's Natural Area Reserve program are hoping the signs help prevent the spread of the fungal disease, which has decimated tens of thousands of acres of native ‘ohi‘a on the Big Island.

The fungal disease, also known as Ceratocystis Wilt, affects the vascular system of the tree. Once stricken, healthy, mature ‘ohi‘a lehua trees can die within a matter of weeks. The disease has the potential to kill ‘ohi‘a trees, which are the backbone of the native rainforest, statewide.

"It is critical that every person who goes into the woods or forest anywhere in Hawaii, takes steps to prevent this disease from spreading," said DLNR chair Suzanne Case in a press release. "Anya and Jeff's work along with a team of other outreach experts, is vitally important in getting kamaaina and visitors alike to be certain they don't inadvertently track the fungus from place to place."

Bagshaw, his staff and volunteers recently conducted surveys with visitors to the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve and found very few people had any knowledge about Rapid ‘Ohi‘a Death.

"We hope hikers and all forest users will start to be conscious wherever they go, even if there's ‘ohi‘a there or not," said Bagshaw in a press release. "We're like them to realize that they could be taking something into the forest that affects our native ecosystems. ‘Oh‘a are the backbone of our native rainforest; they feed the honeycreepers, they protect the watershed. I can't imagine a Hawaiian rainforest without ‘ohi‘a."

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More than 50 signs are expected to be posted at every DOFAW trailhead on the Big Island as well as on Na Ala Hele trailheads on Maui.

The signs recommend that visitors to the trails:

> Clean gear before and after their visit by brushing off all dirt from shoes and gear and spraying with 70 percent rubbing alcohol, particularly if you have hiked on Hawaii island in the last two years.

> Clean vehicles by removing all soil and washing tires and undercarriages with detergent.

> Every hiker could be a potential carrier, so every hiker is responsible for taking the proper care not to spread the fungus.

ROD Trail Head Sign

Related Video:

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Saving the ‘ohi‘a

By
March 3rd, 2016



The ‘ohi‘a lehua is in trouble due to a fungal infestation called "Rapid Ohia Death." UH Mano's Lyon Arboretum has launchd a GoFundMe campaign to collect and bank ‘ohi‘a seeds. Photo courtesy UH.

The ‘ohi‘a lehua is in trouble due to a fungal infestation called "Rapid Ohia Death." UH Manoa's Lyon Arboretum launched a GoFundMe campaign to collect and bank ‘ohi‘a seeds to preserve them for future forest restoration. Photo courtesy UH.

In an effort to save the ‘ohi‘a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha), the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa's Lyon Arboretum launched a GoFundMe campaign last month.

The goal is to raise $35,000 to help scientists collect and bank ‘ohi‘a seeds for the arboretum's Seed Conservation Laboratory. As of this week, roughly three-fourths of the goal has been reached.

The native ‘ohi‘a is under threat by a fungal infestation, called Rapid ‘Ohi‘a Death, that has decimated more than 34,000 acres of the ‘ohi‘a forest on the Big Island. Across the state, the ‘ohi‘a trees occupy about 865,000 acres.

Once an individual tree is infected, it dies within a matter of weeks. Its leaves turn brown and fall off, leaving a skeleton behind. Hundreds of thousands of trees have been infected by the blight, and there is no known treatment for it.

Once infected, the ‘ohi‘a lehua die within weeks. Leaves turn brown and fall off, leaving a skeleton behind. Courtesy UH.

Once infected, the ‘ohi‘a lehua die within weeks. Leaves turn brown and fall off, leaving a skeleton behind. Courtesy UH.

Considered by many to be the most important tree in Hawaii, the ‘ohi‘a plays a central role in Hawaiian culture and mythology as well as in the state's forest ecology. Native birds and tree snails live and feed on them. Their canopy protects smaller trees and native shrubs, creating the watershed that recharges our water supply.

"There is an old Hawaiian proverbial saying, he ali‘i ka ‘aina, he haua ke kanaka, the land is chief and the people are its servants," said UH Hilo professor Kalena Silva. "And so we remember, that the ‘ohi‘a doesn't need us. We need it."

The ‘ohi‘a lehua are among the first plants to grow after a new lava flow. Courtesy UH.

The ‘ohi‘a lehua are among the first plants to grow after a new lava flow. Courtesy UH.

The Seed Conservation Laboratory has been storing native Hawaiian seeds for more than 20 years and currently banks more than 12 million seeds from over 500 native species. Marian Chau, lab manager, said the funds will help staff collect ‘ohi‘a seeds from at-risk areas of the Big Island as well as ‘ohi‘a seeds endemic to Oahu for long-term storage in the seed bank.

Visit gofundme.com/ohialove to show some ‘ohi‘a love.

The rewards are as simple as a hug from the staff for a donation of $10 to a beautiful print of "A Dozen Lehua" by Joey Latsha for $100 or a private, docent-led tour of Lyon Arboretum and an OhiaLove T-Shirt for $1,000.

Related videos (courtesy University of Hawaii):

Posted in Conservation, native plants, plants | Comments Off on Saving the ‘ohi‘a

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