Rapid ohia death discovered on Maui

KAHULUI — Ceratocystis huliohia, the less aggressive strain of the fungal disease called rapid ohia death, was recently detected in a single tree on private property in East Maui.

The lone ohia tree, 15-20 feet tall and 8 to 10 inches in diameter, is located a few feet from a taro loi.

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“This one tree is located away from other ohia trees, so this appears to be an isolated case,” said Lance DeSilva, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife Maui forest management supervisor in a press release issued Tuesday. “It will be treated immediately by torching or burning it.”

This is the first positive detection of the disease on Maui. Rapid ohia death has impacted vast acreage and thousands of trees on Hawaii Island. Both strains; the most aggressive, ceratocystis lukuohia and the less aggressive, ceratocystis huliohia have been detected there and on Kauai. On Maui, only ceratocystis huliohia has been detected.

Quarterly aerial surveys are conducted on Maui to spot trees that may be suspected of having the disease. Typically, samples are then taken from the ground and sent to a lab in Hilo for further testing to determine positive presence. The next quarterly survey is scheduled to begin July 15.

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DOFAW personnel on Maui are planning to reach out to residents of the Kipahulu and Hana areas to increase awareness in those communities for people to be on the lookout for other potential “backyard” ohia trees that should be monitored.

Info: Visit https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/info/species/rapid-ohia-death.

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