Visitors flock to the Hawaiian Islands for sun-soaked holidays filled with silky beaches, turquoise water, lush green hillsides — and naked palm trees missing their leafy crowns?
That possibility has state officials worried because Hawaii’s iconic swaying palm trees are under attack. Their nemesis is the latest in a long line of invasive species to arrive here: the coconut rhinoceros beetle.
Much as the Asian long-horned beetle attacked maple and elm trees on the East Coast, the coconut rhinoceros beetle could devastate Hawaii’s palm trees and move on to bananas, papayas, sugar cane and other crops afterward. Adult beetles burrow into the crowns of palm trees to feed on their sap, damaging developing leaves and eventually killing the trees.
At this point, eradication is still possible. It’s going to take a long time, but it’s still possible.- Rob Curtiss, incident commander for Hawaii’s coconut rhinoceros beetle eradication program
Concerns that the thumb-sized pest, named for its curved horn, could hitch a ride to California or Florida and attack thriving palm oil and date industries there have prompted federal and state officials to declare the beetle’s discovery in Honolulu a pest emergency.
One year into the fight — Dec. 23, 2014, was the anniversary of the beetle’s discovery on coconut palms at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam — state officials are cautiously optimistic.
“At this point, eradication is still possible. It’s going to take a long time, but it’s still possible,”
MALP Educational MeetingFree to the public
Date: Tuesday January 24, 2012
Place: Maui Community Service Bldg next to CTHAR Extension Services (Map) on the UH Maui campus.
Time: Pupus will be served at 6:30 pm and the talk will begin at 7:00.
On January 24th MALP is proud to host guest speakers: William Merwin and Leland Miyano as they share with us their vast combined knowledge about palms. Their talk will include information on Hawaii’s palms, palm growth habits and conservation efforts.
William Merwin, who has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and is the recent US Poet Laureate, has lived and gardened on Maui for over 30 years. Most of his focus has been on cultivating palms from around the world. He has gathered approximately 800 different species of palms, creating a truly unique palm jungle within the rainforest of Maui’s north shore. His enduring gardening passion along with his legacy of being a successful poet will be preserved with the recently created “The Merwin Conservancy“.
Leland Miyano, a good friend of Merwin, is an artist, landscape designer and author from Oahu. Leland has years of experience working with native palms throughout Hawaii and has worked extensively with many highly respected people in the field of horticulture and design. Leland’s numerous books include: Hawaii’s Beautiful Tree’s and Hawaii, A Floral Paradise. Leland’s own 1-acre garden in Kahalu’u is renown for its design and features numerous palms.