HONOLULU (KHON2) — The ʻōhiʻa lehua became the official Hawaii endemic tree when Gov. David Ige signed a bill into law at Washington Place on Tuesday, May 24.

“ʻŌhiʻa lehua is a symbol of Hawaii,” said Gov. David Ige. “It is a keystone species in our native forests. They are endemic to Hawaii and make up fully 80% of our native forest.”

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“This official recognition of ōhiʻa as the Hawaii state endemic tree will increase the awareness of its importance,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR chair. “It will be valuable for educating residents and visitors about the need to protect our native forests from serious threats.”

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said the ʻōhiʻa is the most common native tree.

The tree has been threatened by a fungal disease called Rapid Ōhiʻa Death.

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Gov. Ige, First Lady Amano-Ige, DNLR Chair Suzanne Case, Senator Brian Taniguchi, Representative Lisa Marten, and students from Waimanalo Elementary and Mānoa Elementary schools planted a young ʻōhiʻa tree on the grounds of Washington Place after the bill signing.