It’s not enough that global warming has a devastating effect over the Earth’s flora but now a fungus is destroying the trees in Hawaii.
- The Ohia trees are spread over one million acres in Hawaii
- The fungal disease can kill a tree within two weeks
- Ohia trees are important because they protect Hawaiian watersheds
It is already known that climate change is affecting our planet’s flora either because it’s too hot and forests are catching on fire, or rain is too heavy and drowns the plants or animals that haven important role in the spreading of seeds are also disappearing.
But it looks like in Hawaii forests are threatened by a fungal disease which has already killed hundreds of thousands of trees. And we’re not talking about any type of tree, but about the native Ohia trees which are said to be essential for water supplies. The fungal disease was named Rapid Ohia Death (ROD) and is actually caused by a fungus called ceratocystis fimbriata.
Although the disease is still new to Hawaii and it only affects Big Islands forests for now researchers fear that it could expand across the state. The phenomenon is alarming enough to bring Hawaii agencies and federal agencies together in an effort to find a way to reduce the spreading of the disease and eventually fight it off.
The disease was first detected in the forests of Puna in 2014. In only one year, the fungus spread in many other areas including the islands of Kona and Ka’u. Depending on area, the mortality risk ranges from 50 percent to 90 percent and the disease can kill a mature tree in less than two weeks.
The Ohia tree is considered the most important tree in Hawaii. These trees cover over one million acres and play a very important part in protecting the state’s watersheds. This is the main reason why so many government agencies as well as NGOs are coming together to offer their expertise and resources in the hope they can save the Ohia tree.
These trees are also a big part of the Hawaiian culture their leaves being used for the traditional hula, a dance performed dressed in a costume made out of leaves and flowers which is not only very popular among people in Hawaii, but also known throughout the worlds as a representative cultural icon.
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