Tree plan introduces bugs

Brazilian insect could slow growth of nonnative strawberry guava tree

The state is once again seeking approval to release a Brazilian scale insect into Hawaii forests to control the spread of the popular but environmentally needy strawberry guava tree.

    Acres already densely infested
    Acres of native forest areas that could become densely infested at current rates of growth
    Acres of native forest not yet threatened

The state Department of Agriculture is expected to release an environmental assessment today, and the public will have 30 days to weigh in on the controversial bio-control initiative, which has been hotly debated for the past two years.

The assessment notes that the nonnative strawberry guava, which does not have a natural predator in Hawaii, crowds out native plants and animals and reduces the amount of water in soil, streams and groundwater systems by as much as 50 percent during dry periods. According to information cited in the study, strawberry guava also threatens Hawaiian archaeological sites and supports the proliferation of fruit flies, which can damage commercial produce.

"At its current trajectory, strawberry guava will take over all native plants statewide unless something is done," said Christy Martin, public information officer for the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, which coordinates alien pest responses by the state departments of Agriculture, Health, Land and Natural Resources and other agencies.

Lethal limbs | Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Maui Tree Services

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.

Cumberland Times-News – Ethnobiology at FSU grows with federal grant

FSU is the only institution offering the undergraduate major and minor in ethnobotany, and is the only university in the contiguous 48 states to do so. A similar program is available at the University of Hawaii.

Ethnobiology at FSU grows with federal grant

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

FROSTBURG — The $550,000 in federal funds will go a long way toward helping Frostburg State University’s ethnobotanists find patches of wild-growing black cohosh, which then could be used for medicinal purposes such as a replacement for hormone therapy.

U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin announced recently that the money will be coming from the Agricultural Appropriations Committee and is headed for the Appalachian Center for Ethnobotanical Studies at FSU.