Maui Tree Tests Positive for Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Pathogen
Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD) is a fungal disease affecting one of Hawaiʻi’s most beloved and widespread native trees, the ʻōhiʻa.
ROD fist appeared on Hawaiʻi Island around 2014 and has killed hundreds of thousands of the iconic trees there. In 2018, ROD was detected at the Moloa‘a Forest Reserve on Kauaʻi. In June 2019, it was detected for the first time in Maui. See the news release from the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
There are two species responsible for this disease, Ceratocystis lukuohia (the more aggessive species) and Ceratocystis huliohia. Both species have been detected on Hawaiʻi Island and Kauaʻi; the lone infected ʻōhiʻa on Maui has C. huliohia. Both species of pathogen cause browning of the leaves and tree death.
This one tree is located away from other ʻōhiʻa, so this appears to be an isolated case. It will be treated immediately by torching or burning it.
- Lance DeSilva, Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife
How You Can Help
Researchers from several organizations have been searching for ways to stop the spread of ROD. Initial results suggest that ungulate proof fencing can help, as it keeps hoofed animals out of native forest areas. Pigs, sheep, goats and cows can spread ROD because they damage ‘ōhi‘a trees as they forage, allowing the pathogens to enter the tree.
Do and don’ts from the University of Hawaiʻi’s Rapid ʻŌhiaʻs Death web pages include:
- Avoid injuring ʻōhiʻa.
- Don’t move ʻōhiʻa wood or ʻōhiʻa parts.
- Don’t transport ʻōhiʻa inter-island.
- Clean gear and tools, including shoes and clothes, before and after entering forests.
- Wash the tires and undercarriage of your vehicle to remove all soil or mud.
Between ongoing research and preventative actions by landowners and managers, the hope is that the spread of ROD can be reduced.
Note: Anyone who is concerned about an ‘ōhi‘a tree on Maui should call the DOFAW Maui office at (808) 984-8100.