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Death Fungus and Ohia Trees

Death Fungus and Ohia Trees

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, May 22, 2017/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, sustainability, environment, plants

 

     Death Fungus attacks Ohio Forests, Hawaii  (credit: Department of Land and Natural Resources)

A deadly fungus has been identified in Hawaiian forests and it is attacking an ecologically and culturally important tree, the ohia lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha). Ohia forests are critical in maintaining water supplies; as habitat for rare and endangered birds, and as part of Native Hawaiian cultural traditions such leis and the hula.

  
 ohia, Metrosideros polymorpha (credit: Univ. of Hawaii)      I'iwi Native Hawaiian bird (credit: iNaturalist)

The disease is being caused by the rapid ohia death fungus that has now infected hundreds of thousands of ohia trees on the Big Island of Hawaii. According to the Maui News the fungus is not known anywhere else in the world so preventive actions are still in development. Besides understanding what caused the widespread infection, a concern is how to prevent the spread of the pathogen to other Hawaiian islands. The fungal spores could be spread by plant materials, birds, or winds.

Hawaiian forest managers presented their concerns about the ohia wilt disease and suggested actions for all Hawaiians to follow in a news video. Perhaps the President, spending the Holidays in his native Hawaii. will take time to visit some of the forests, their field managers, and express his concern as well.



WHB

 

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