Shhh! Quiet Please. When sea turtles (honu) come out of the water it is almost always because they need to…
10 ways to help protect the MauiʻŌhiʻa from Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death:
If you haven’t heard about the ʻŌhiʻa forest being at risk, you are just in time. RapidʻŌhiʻa Death is threatening the life of the Hawaiian forest. The ʻŌhiʻa trees that make up the largest part of the forest are a keystone species. Keystone species are the backbone of an ecosystem, if the keystone species of any given ecosystem were to disappear that ecosystem would be affected greatly or even collapse entirely. Take the honey bee for example, another keystone species, no honey bee = no food. It doesn’t get more straight forward than that. One does not have to be a scientist to recognize this relationship between bees and food.
The high reaching treetops of ʻŌhiʻa forest gather rain and moisture from the air directing much needed water to the islands aquifer. These beautiful trees also provide a canopy for other plants and countless creatures. The flowers give sweet nectar to bird, bees and other pollinators. We must all do our part to save these trees and the environment they support. Here are a few ways you can help.
1. Avoid injuring ʻōhiʻa.
The fungus can easily make its way into the tree through cuts in the bark. When using a weed-eater around the base or tree do not allow the whips to come in contact with the trunk, as girdling trees make them susceptible to illness. A sure way to kill any tree is to cut the bark all the way around it. Read more »
The ʻŌhiʻa trees (Metrosideros polymorpha), make up approximately 80 percent of the Hawaiian rainforest canopy. The forest’s canopy filters sunlight and disperses large raindrops into a mist so the moisture arrives on the forest floor more gently not causing damage to delicate plant life down below.
Additionally, these tall canopy trees and their root systems direct water into the ground. Since ʻŌhiʻa trees are much less thirsty than many other plants, they allow much of the rain that falls to pass by them and end up in the aquifer. The birds are nourished by the flowers and the rough bark is home to tiny bugs, lizards and plant-life, like orchids and moss.
In 2010 on Big Island, Hawaii, in Puna specifically, residents in that area began to notice that the ʻŌhiʻa trees were dying in their yards and surrounding areas. Hundreds of thousands of native ʻŌhiʻa trees began dying across tens of thousands of acres.
In 2014, the culprit of this die off was discovered to be a fungus, tentatively known at the time as Ceratocystis fimbriata. This fungus already has a reputation around the world for causing problems for coffee, cacao, and mango plants. It’s worth noticing because all three of these crops are being grown on Hawaii’s Big Island and on Maui.
Later still, in what was referred to by researcher scientists as “a surprise twist,” it was discovered that there are two kinds of Ceratocystis fungi attacking the ʻŌhiʻa, neither previously known by scientist,s until the ʻŌhiʻa forest began to die.
What if the the chemicals farmers are spraying to kill weeds are also killing helpful bacteria, bacteria that protect the soil from fungus. I came across some research that indicated just that. The article states, “Farmers fighting weeds with herbicide” may also be unintentionally killing bacteria that benefit the soil and guard against fungus, new research suggests.” There has to be a better way.
In addition to the fungi problem scientists have confirmed that the fungus killing the forest is being assisted by a non native Ambrosia beetle. The beetle eats the wood and the fungus, carrying the unwanted fungus to other trees. The waste of the beetle has been tested by scientists and shown to contain 62 percent of the Ceratocytis lukuohia fungus DNA.
Since these two fungi were first discovered in Hawai’i, Hawaiian names were given to reflect what is happening to the ʻŌhiʻa tree. Read more »
‘Ōhelo, (pronounced ‘Oh hello’ in Hawaii), is a plant related to the Cranberry and Blueberry that grows on Maui. Vaccinium reticulatum as it is called scientifically, is a flowering plant growing on lava flows and volcanic ash at elevations between 640 and 3,700′ on Maui and Hawaii’s Big Island.
‘Ōhelo berries are considered Sacred to Pele, the Goddess of Fire and Volcanoes. Additionally, ‘Ōhelo are a staple in the diet of the protected Nēnē Goose. ‘Ōhelo are tasty and like many fruits the flavor is sometimes sweet, sometimes tart, and sometimes neither. The color of ‘Ōhelo berries can be a variety of warm shades ranging from red to orange to yellow. The color of the fruit is no indicator of flavor. It’s flavor is a big surprise.
It is asked that you not harvest or eat any of the wild growing ‘Ōhelo berries during your visit. Harvesting the berries in the wild disrupts the delicate landscape habitat by damaging native vegetation and possibly introducing invasive hitchhiking seeds or bacteria while taking an important food source away from the Nēnē Goose. Please leave the berries for the Hawaiian Nēnē so the digested seeds can pass thru the Nēnē and stay with the land thus increasing the propagation of the native plants and for feeding future generations of this gorgeous native goose. If the berries are eaten by you the seeds will pass through you and… Let’s not get into that here… Read more »
There is quite a bit of buzz about the bees these days. It seems like when we were kids we just co-existed in nature with the bees and all the bugs for that matter.
If an unwanted roach showed up we just smashed it with a slippah or a boot. Today just about every store we go to has an entire aisle dedicated to poisoning this or that crawly thing.
Then we wonder why our bees are on the endangered species list. Here are a few simple ways we can be more mindful of the bees and other critters just trying to live. It would be great if we could just get rid of the roaches, fleas and mosquitos but since poisons kill indiscriminately we need a better plan.
1. Skip the Pesticides – Spraying to kill some bug that you believe to be a pest while simultaneously killing the ones that are responsible for food to grow, is a horrible plan.
2. Replace Lawns with Food – This is Maui, we need to make the unnaturally green lawn a thing to be scoffed at. If bee killing fertilizer and pesticides is what it takes to have a green lawn, we need to take a closer look at our priorities.
3. Know the Origin of the Plants We Buy – Where are your ornamental plants, succulents and fruit trees coming from. Buy plants from nurseries that do NOT treat plants with neonicotinoids, or other bee killing pesticides. You may want to take a close look when shopping at Home Depot, Lowes or Walmart in particular. Additionally, these plants are coming from who knows where, they could introduce any number of problems in your garden. Buy Heirloom seeds from a reliable source – Rather than buying veggies grown in questionable soil start your own veggies in your own organic soil or compost. Grow flowers with your veggies so the bees can find your garden more easily. Read more »
Maui County has legislated a ban on polystyrene products effective Dec. 31, 2018. In an effort to be more sustainable…
Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project is dedicated to recovering Maui’s endangered birds and to restore their habitats. With some of…