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‘Hundreds of thousands’ of native ohia trees being wiped out


    The Ceratocystis fimbriata fungus causes Ohia trees to brown and wilt.

The state said today that hundreds of thousands of native ohia trees have been killed by a mysterious disease dubbed “rapid ohia death.”

The iconic ohia, widely used in lei, is described as the backbone of Hawaii’s native forestsand watersheds.

“ROD is caused by a fungus called Ceratocystis fimbriata. This disease is new to Hawai‘i and the strain of fungus infecting ohia, has never been described before. While apparently only impacting Big Island forests currently, this has the potential of spreading statewide, so it’s critically important we do everything to stop it,” J.B. Friday of the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service said.

Numerous state and federal agencies have joined forces to help keep the disease from spreading.

“Ohia trees cover more than one million acres statewide and ohia is widely considered the most important forest tree in Hawai‘i,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. “They are so important for protecting our forest watersheds that it’s necessary our approach to combating this disease involves the highest levels of government and includes non-government agencies and private partners that can provide additional resources and expertise.”

The DLNR has produced brochures and a video available on state, federal and social media websites

“The Department of Agriculture has already instituted a quarantine rule which prohibits interisland movement of ‘ōhi‘a plant and plant parts without inspection and a permit. Everyone must be vigilant, especially those who transport ‘ōhi‘a trees inter-island and on Hawai‘i Island,” HDOA Chair Scott Enright said.

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