HONOLULU (KHON2)– For the first time, Rapid Ohia Death (ROD) was found for the first time on Oahu.
The diseased ohia tree was found above Pearl City near the summit of the Koolau Mountains on private property.
“We don’t know how long it’s been here yet and we’re assessing the situation and will respond accordingly.”Robert Hauff, State Protection Forester
A sample of the tree was analyzed and was confirmed to be the less aggressive form of Rapid Ohia Death.
For the past three years, 150 ohia trees have been tested for the disease on Oahu, but all samples came back negative.
“It’s scary. It’s scary,” said hula practitioner Lisa Viela. “To me, the ohia is pretty much important because it was what the royalty would you know back in the day, a lot of them used that flower.”
Ohia trees grow throughout the Ko’olau and Waianae mountain ranges across approximately 50,000 acres.
According to the DLNR, Residents and visitors can help protect remaining ohia forests by:
• Avoid injuring ohia. Open wounds on ohia are an entry point for disease spores. The disease can also spread from tree to tree on machetes or other tools.
• Don’t transport ohia inter-island.
• Don’t move ohia wood or vegetation, especially from areas known to have ROD.
• Clean your hiking boots/gear/tools. Scrub off all dirt and spray boot soles and tools with 70% rubbing alcohol, and wash your clothes in hot water and use a dryer to ensure the disease is not spread on boots and clothing.
• Wash your vehicle if driving near ohia forests. The disease can remain alive and infectious in soil, so wash all dirt off vehicles.
“There are a lot of dead trees on Hawaii Island. We re hoping that we don’t see that here on Oahu.”Robert Hauff, State Protection Forester