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Bingabing trees on Kauai concern conservationists

By Associated Press


LIHUE » A plant with umbrella-size leaves and a bad habit of choking out native species has taken up residence on Kauai.

The Kauai Invasive Species Committee is trying to find out how widespread bingabing trees have become after investigating more than a dozen plants near the mouth of the Hana­lei River, the Garden Island newspaper reported.

Macaranga mappa is established on Hawaii island and Oahu in wet, low-elevation areas, according to the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk website. The trees were seeded around Hilo from aircraft after a large fire.

Some of the trees on Kauai already are mature, said Keren Gundersen, the committee project manager.

"We can see that it's spreading," Gundersen said. "So it has been there for a while."

Bingabing is native to the Philippines. Besides huge leaves, the trees have small pink or red flowers at their tops. A related species, Macaranga tanarius, is established on Kauai and has smaller leaves and green flowers.

Gundersen guesses that the ornamental tree was brought to the Hana­lei area intentionally.

In 1927, 81 trees were planted in the Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve. The status of forestry planting is uncertain, according to Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk.

"It's new for us, but the plant is actually somewhat widespread in the Hilo area," Gundersen said, "which is why we're trying to get a handle on it really quickly."

The invasive species committee will conduct a survey to determine the abundance of bingabing. Crews will work with property owners to remove trees.

"If we find out this is already widespread, it may not be a target for us," Gundersen said.

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Kaluu wrote:
Same old story. Not enough citizens are aware that what seems like such an innocent act, bringing in a new plant or animal from another island or continent, can add to the list of plants and animals squeezing out the native ones. It's been going on for a long time: Tahitian fish (introduced on purpose by the State of Hawaii), the mongoose, kikuyu grass, Hilo grass, etc, etc. Most people still don't realize that Hawaii is unique in the entire world as having the greatest number of native species, due to its greater distance from continental landmasses. There are native species, such as the lowland hau that County park crews will chop down as they admire and make great efforts to preserve foreign ironwood trees. But my understanding is, it's to late to stop the attrition of native species; we can only slow it to some degree. Introducing more foreign plants and animals certainly doesn't help do that. Many Hawaii people talk about how precious the aina is but are very careless about the truly Hawaiian aina.
on November 12,2013 | 07:16AM
onevoice82 wrote:
Nice picture??????
on November 12,2013 | 07:51AM
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