By Stephanie Yao
The first cultivar of ‘ōhelo berry, a popular native Hawaiian fruit, has been released by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their university and industry cooperators.
‘Ōhelo (Vaccinium reticulatum Smith) is a small, native Hawaiian shrub in the cranberry family, commonly found at high elevations on the islands of Maui and Hawaii. As people scour the landscape to harvest this delectable berry for use in jam, jelly and pie filling, they unfortunately disrupt the fragile habitats where this plant grows.
In an effort to reduce damage to the environment and meet consumer demands, horticulturist Francis T.P. Zee, with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) in Hilo, Hawaii, is evaluating ‘ōhelo for small farm production and ornamental use. Zee collaborated with fellow ARS scientists and cooperators at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Big Island Candies and the Big Island Association of Nurserymen. ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of USDA.
Zee and his team selected the offspring of seed-grown plants to create the new cultivar “Kilauea” for berry production.
The state plans to hold a public hearing this week on the Army’s plans for managing endangered plant and animal species in the Koolau and Waianae mountains.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is holding the meeting to gather public input before its board considers the Army’s application to manage lands zoned for conservation.
The hearing is scheduled to be held on Wednesday in Honolulu at the Board of Land and Natural Resources conference room at 1151 Punchbowl Street.
A copy of the Army’s Conservation District Use Application may be found on the department’s website at www.hawaii.gov/dlnr
Mainland images of the fall harvest may not apply to Hawaii, where the growing season is year-round. But after the islands’ busier summer than 2009’s and before a Christmas break that’s expected to be even more robust, travelers may find that quieter autumn is the peak period to reap the benefits of new and renewed activities and accommodations.
For activities, the menu of agritourism options – an appetizing way to support farmers and rural landscapes – keeps expanding on the four major islands:
Maui: The new Grown on Maui Bus Tour lives up to its name by including a locally sourced continental breakfast at the Whole Foods Market in Kahului, a company tour and pineapple tasting at the Haliimaile Pineapple Co., a gourmet lunch and tour at upcountry Oo Farm (owned by PacificO and IO restaurants) and a walking tour and dessert at Alii Kula Lavender Farm, before returning to Whole Foods. The weekly Tuesday tour, open to ages 12 and older, costs $130 plus tax. (808) 879-2828, www.akinatours.com.
HONOLULU — A Hawaiian plant species thought to be extinct has been found on the Big Island.
The Nature Conservancy and Parker Ranch said Wednesday staff discovered the plant earlier this summer in an upland rainforest on the slopes of Kohala volcano.
They were surveying a rare tree snail population on the ranch when they stumbled upon a plant with greenish white flowers and dark green leaves. They couldn’t identify it so they sent photographs to Thomas Lammers, a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh expert.
He identified the plant as Clermontia peleana singuliflora, a species last seen on the Big Island in 1909 and last collected in East Maui in 1920.
More than 30 of the plants have since been found, and the conservancy has collected seeds to propagate the species.
KAHULUI – Maui Nui Botanical Gardens will host a kalo (taro) workshop Sept. 4 to 6 led by Hawaiian cultural practitioner and mahi’ai (farmer) Jerry Konanui as part of its new education program, “Ulu Ka Hoi” (to grow interest).
This three-day event will educate local farmers and practitioners on the varieties of kalo available, techniques to identify these varieties, proper cultivation methods and cultural applications. Participants also will have the opportunity to learn innovative wood- and stone-sculpting methods using modern equipment.
Space is limited and daily fees apply. Call 249-2798 to reserve a place.
Grow Native! Ensure the survival of native Hawaiian plants by growing them in your backyard! Head over to Maui Nui Botanical Gardens on Saturday, August 28th, at 9am for your chance to purchase native Hawaiian plants from numerous local growers. Let’s all work together to keep Maui Nui no ka ‘oi?
Fast-growing, fragile trees are looming threat
By Colin M. Stewart
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
It’s only a matter of time, says a group of Hawaiian Beaches residents, before someone is seriously injured, or worse.
"People are going to die soon," agreed University of Hawaii at Hilo associate professor of biology Becky Ostertag.
What has the Puna residents and experts so concerned is the albizia tree.
A relative newcomer to Hawaii, albizia were introduced here in 1917 by botanist Joseph Rock as an ornamental tree and for reforestation purposes.
With its tall white trunk and wide-spreading, umbrella-like canopy capable of shading up to a half acre, the albizia tree makes for a pleasing contrast to the black outcroppings of lava rock and scrubby underbrush so prevalent in the Puna area.
It is one of the fastest growing trees in the world, according to albizia expert Flint Hughes of the U.S. Forest Service.
The tree can grow to 20 feet tall in its first year, 45 feet in its third, and 60 feet by the end of its 10th year.
It is albizia’s ability to grow so quickly, however, that makes it a threat to those under its expansive network of branches, said Hughes.
Nursery Owners and other plant professionals,
We will be on Maui on May 27th and may be able to visit some of you. Hopefully you can come to our evening meeting on May 27th at 5pm at Maui Community College at Laulima, room 107 where we can explain this program in more detail.
We are supported by a federal grant from the US Department of Agriculture, so we are able to provide the online database on the horticultural of native plants, and web space for any business growing native plants without cost.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Priscilla S. Millen
Professor of Botany, Leeward Community College
Dept. of Math and Sciences: 96-045 Ala Ike, Pearl City, Hawaii 96782
Priscilla Millen, Botany professor at Leeward Community College who has a grant from USDA to increase training and businesses in plant related fields. Her focus is to increase the numbers of native plant used in Hawai?i?s landscape. It provides environmental advantages and helps with education and conservation.
Shari Tamashiro of Kapi?olani Community College is the technological professional developing the website and database to go online.
David Eickhoff is a native plant specialist inputting the data and has a long experience with growing natives.
Any one growing natives on the islands will be able to put their business information and native plant inventory into the database. The website will be: nativeplants.hawaii.edu and will be active on August 1st. The site is designed to be user friendly.
A large part of the database will include native plant horticultural information, designed in view for usage by landscape architects, landscape contractors and installers. It should be useful for restoration work and homeowner?s application.