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Ohia fungus found on Kauai

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    A blossom of an ohia lehua tree soaked in the sunshine at Kauai’s Limahuli Garden, in 2007, on Kauai. Experts have detected a fungus on Kauai that has killed several ohia lehua trees in the Moloa’a Forest Reserve.

Experts have found a pathogenic fungi on Kauai that has killed several ohia lehua trees in the Moloa’a Forest Reserve.

The species, Ceratocystis huliohia, is one of two pathogens causing rapid ohia death to tens of thousands of acres on Hawaii Island.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources will hold a news conference this afternoon where experts will further discuss the discovery of the disease on Kauai.

The pathogen causes a canker disease beneath the bark which spreads slowly throughout the tree, killing off water-conducting tissues. The other species, Ceratocystis lukuohia, is more aggressive and causes a “systemic wilt,” according to the University of Hawaii website.

Experts recently confirmed the less aggressive fungus has killed five trees in the Moloa’a reserve.

DLNR spokesman Dan Dennison indicated there could be more trees on Kauai and possibly other neighbor islands afflicted by the disease. “There could be pockets of these trees all over the state,” he added.

Janelle Saneishi, spokeswoman of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, said they are working to expand the existing quarantine restrictions on the transport of ohia from Hawaii Island to include Kauai.

To prevent the spread of rapid ohia death, Saneishi said they are asking the public not to transport ohia from Kauai or move ohia wood or parts within the island.

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