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Ohia lehua named state endemic tree

An ohia blossom is seen in the Honouliuli Forest Reserve on Oahu in 2018. Photo courtesy of DLNR

Ohia lehua has been officially designated as Hawaii’s state endemic tree after Gov. David Ige signed Senate Bill 2059 into law on Tuesday during a ceremony at Washington Place on Oahu.

Ohia is the most common native tree in the state’s forests, making up 80 percent, and is ubiquitous from lower elevations to the highest peaks, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a news release Tuesday.

But over the past eight years, rapid ohia death has killed more than a million ohia trees on Hawaii island alone, Ige said.

“Providing this recognition for ohia will help spread the message about how important this species has been and will continue to be, to life in Hawaii,” the governor said.

The designation was the result of efforts by hundreds of schoolchildren, their teachers, state lawmakers and conservationists, DLNR said. Thirty keiki joined the bill signing on Tuesday, which concluded with the ceremonial planting of a young ohia tree on the grounds of Washington Place.

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