WAILUKU - A native tree at the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens and coconut trees at Molokai's Kapuaiwa Coconut Beach Park have received national titles in the newly released National Register of Big Trees, according to an announcement from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The botanical gardens' aalii tree was planted about 30 years ago and now stands more than 16 feet tall, said gardens Executive Director Joylynn Paman. The tree's trunk circumference is 23 inches, and its average width is 16.13 feet, she added.
Paman said she took the tree's measurements as part of the process of nominating it for the national recognition.
Maui Nui Botanical Gardens Executive Director Joylynn Paman inspects a 30-year-old aalii tree last week at the Wailuku facility. The tree was recently included in the newly released National Register of Big Trees and stands more than 16 feet tall. The tree’s trunk circumference is 23 inches, and its average width is 16.13 feet.
The Maui News / Matthew Thayer photo
"I'm very excited," she said of the gardens receiving the recognition for the aalii tree, which is the largest she's ever seen, although she had heard reports of larger trees of that species on the Big Island.
The national register recognizes the biggest trees of hundreds of species, according to the DLNR announcement.
Aside from the Maui and Molokai trees, three others on the Big Island received recognition after they were nominated by community groups.
Those other three were:
* An acacia koa in the Kona Hema Preserve.
* A hau tree at the Hulihee Palace near Kailua-Kona.
* A manele/soapberry at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The Molokai coconut trees at Kaupaiwa are among the few remaining royal coconut groves in Hawaii. The trees on the Friendly Isle were planted in the 1860s for King Kamehameha V. The grove was originally covered with more than 1,000 coco palms on about 10 acres of beachfront land. The park is about a half-mile west of Kaunakakai on Maunaloa Highway.
DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife Administrator Paul Conry said it's a special honor for the state to have trees recognized as the biggest of their kind.
"For trees to grow bigger than their competition, it usually means that they've been protected and nurtured over the years," he said. "And they've been lucky. Having grown into large, healthy trees, they now do their own job of protecting and nurturing the plants, trees, wildlife and even humans in their habitats."
The full list of recognized trees can be found online at hawaii.gov/dlnr/ dofaw/forestry/big-trees.