HONOLULU (KHON2) — “The invasive species capitol of the world.” That’s how many experts refer to Hawaiʻi.

Now, Hawaiʻi is battling with many animal and plant invaders.

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Over the years since the creation of Koko Head Tramway, a lot of the plant life has completely overgrown the tramway. This includes a diabolical invasive species knowns as false koa or koa haole.

It drops these seeds by the thousands, tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands. And, it’s completely overtaken this side of the island.

“It’s considered one of the world’s worst invasive species. It made the top 100 list so congratulations, haole koa,” said Daniel Rubinoff, UH Mānoa invasive species expert.

These plants were brought in to feed livestock, but they’re actually not very good at that. What they are good at is propagating and growing in any kind of place like down here beneath these rocks.

You gotta pull them out when they’re keiki, and they’re a little easier to get by the root because if they grow up and get a little bit bigger, then they become much, much more difficult to get out.

“Even if you get out the tree that was in your yard for years afterwards, saplings are going to sprout up and if you don’t get them in time, they’ll get a deep taproot and they’ll also be very challenging to remove. You can cut a haole koa tree off at its base and it will re-sprout instantly,” said Rubinoff.

And, it can be dangerou as its great fuel for brush fires.

“A fire can sweep through native dry forest and clear the land and when you get those open clearings the haole koa comes in and grows and a fire sweeps through the haole koa is okay, because it will re sprout from its root,” said Rubinoff.

Once you get rid of it there are many native plants that you can plant

  • Amongst the recommendations from numerous experts we spoke with:
  • a’ali’I
  • ‘ilima
  • ma’o or hibiscus…Also our state flower
  • wiliwili

In fact, Governor Josh Green proclaimed April native Hawaiian plant month.

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“Our state flower the yellow hibiscus is a dry forest plant. It’s got beautiful flowers, it’ll lose its leaves in the summer if it gets too dry, but then it’ll re sprout again when the rains come,” said Rubinoff.