×

Rapid Ohia Death is discovered on one East Maui tree

First confirmed presence on Maui is less aggressive strain of disease

The Maui News

One tree on private property in East Maui has been detected with a less aggressive strain of Rapid Ohia Death — the first confirmed presence of the fungal disease on the island — the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said late Tuesday afternoon.

The lone tree was 15 to 20 feet tall and 8 to 10 inches in diameter, the DLNR said. It was located a few feet from a taro loi.

The tree was afflicted with Ceratocystis huliohia, the less aggressive strain of the fungal disease that is devastating native ohia forests on Hawaii island, the DLNR said. The Hawaii Invasive Species Council website says though, that both strains eventually lead to the death of the tree.

“This one tree is located away from other ohia trees, so this appears to be an isolated case. It will be treated immediately by torching or burning it,” said Lance DeSilva, Maui Forest Management Supervisor with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Rapid Ohia Death has impacted vast acreage and thousands of trees on Hawaii island since being detected in 2014. Both strains, the more aggressive Ceratocystis lukuohia and the less aggressive Ceratocystis huliohia, have been detected on Hawaii island and on Kauai.

On Maui, only Ceratocystis huliohia has been detected so far, DLNR said. The strains are recognized as two distinct species with significantly different pathologies, the invasive species council said.

The endemic ohia is an important tree in Hawaii’s forests and landscape and to the ecosystem. The trees comprise 80 percent of native Hawaiian forests, the invasive species council said.

Quarterly aerial surveys are conducted on Maui to spot trees that may be suspected of having the disease, DLNR said. Typically, samples are then taken from the ground and sent to a lab in Hilo for further testing.

The next Maui quarterly survey is scheduled to begin July 15.

State forestry and wildlife personnel on Maui are planning to reach out to residents of the Kipahulu and Hana areas to alert them to be on the lookout for other potential backyard ohia trees that should be monitored. Anyone who has a suspected tree is encouraged to call the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Maui office at 984-8100.