HONOLULU (KHON2) — KHON2’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways across the pae ʻāina so the meaning of their names can be uncovered.
It is time to bring attention to an endemic tree to Hawaiʻi that is also very important to Hawaiian culture.
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In the ahupuaʻa of Keaʻau, which lies in the moku of Puna on the island of Hawaiʻi, stands a roadway that carries the name of a tree that is currently being threatened by foreign diseases.
That roadway is ʻŌhiʻa Avenue.
ʻŌhiʻa, or ʻŌhiʻa Lehua, is a native tree to Hawaiʻi, endemic to the six largest islands.
Its forests cover approximately 865,000 acres, making it the most common Native Hawaiian tree.
Adapting to its surrounding environments from sea level to 8,000 feet in elevation, ʻŌhiʻa is considered the primary habitat for many plants, animals and invertebrates.
One common sight along Hawaiʻi’s volcanos is the ʻŌhiʻa Lehua.
AThe ʻŌhiʻa becomes known as a colonizer after a lava flow, being the first tree that grows from it, the first seeds to a new forest.
A new disease killing ʻŌhiʻa trees was unfortunately identified in 2014, known as Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD).
ROD has been confirmed on Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, but mainly Hawaiʻi Island where more than 175,000 acres of forest are showing symptoms.
There is no known cure yet, just our own kuleana to not spread it.
Did you know? Now you do!