HILO, Hawaii – Some holiday traditions on Hawaii Island are being reconsidered in light of a newly identified disease killing mature ʻōhiʻa trees.
For example, the annual Native Species Wreath Making Workshop hosted by the Department of Land and Natural Resources on December 19th went ʻōhiʻa-free this year, due to the onset of Rapid Ohia Death, or ROD.
“We are encouraging folks to pick ʻōhiʻa alternatives,” said Anya Tagawa, a DLNR Natural Area Reserve Outreach Specialist, “such as other natives like pūkiawe, waiwaiʻole, aʻaliʻi. Other things that could still look festive in a wreath but aren’t ʻōhiʻa, so we aren’t transporting the disease to other places around the island.”
As scientists scramble to learn more about the fungus that is causing the die-off, a quarantine has been put in place keeping ʻōhiʻa confined to Hawaii Island. Once found only in Puna and Hilo, the ʻōhiʻa wilt has now been confirmed in Kona, as well.
The DLNR willbe holding a press conference tomorrow (Wed. Dec. 23) on the response to ROD.