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Published on June 30, 2021

Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death - Useful Tips to Stop the Spread

ʻŌhiʻa (Metrosideros polymorpha), is the most abundant native tree found across Hawaiʻi. Today, ʻōhiʻa are dying from a new disease caused by two fungal pathogens: Ceratocystis lukuohia, the more agressive fungus and Ceratocystis huliohia, the less agreessive of the two. 

Healthy trees appear to die within a few days to a few weeks, which is how the disease came to be called “Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death.” This disease has killed trees in all districts of Hawaiʻi Island and has been detected on Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Maui, and Oʻahu. 

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Help prevent spreading Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death by practicing these five things:

1. Avoid injuring ʻōhiʻa.

2. Don’t move ʻōhiʻa wood or ʻōhiʻa parts.

3. Don’t transport ʻōhiʻa inter-island.

4. Clean gear and tools, including shoes and clothes, before and after entering forests.

5. Wash the tires and undercarriage of your vehicle to remove all soil or mud.


Other useful tips to help save ʻŌhiʻa:

  • Practice good sanitation habits: when going into the forest always remember to clean your vehicles, clean boots, and sterilize any cutting tools used.
  • Use other native plants such as ʻaʻaliʻi and ornamentals like bottlebrush in lei making and/or other foliage art.
  • Please get permission from landowners and the forest you gather foliage from through cultural protocol and/or gratitude. And always remember to get the required permits from DLNR-DOFAW when harvesting foliage from state and public lands. For DOFAW State Forest Reserves, you can apply for permits here: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/frs/permitting/
  • If you chose to pick ʻōhiʻa, these practices are encouraged: pick branch tips of not more than 4 inches and DO NOT cut down whole branches. NOTE - The larger the wound opened, the greater chance the tree has to catch ROD.
  • Finally, recognize when it is time to let the ʻōhiʻa lehua rest in the space where you
    gather to give them the opportunity to grow.

For more information on Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, visit: https://cms.ctahr.hawaii.edu/rod/