Ohi tree & coffee nguyễn du

     

Native Hawaiian mythology tells the tale of two young lovers named 'Ohi'a and Lehua. Pele, the goddess of volcanoes, was also in love with the handsome 'Ohi'a. She approached hyên ổn, but he refused her. In a jealous rage, Pele turned 'Ohi'a into lớn a tree. Lehua was devastated. The other gods, pitying Lehua for her loss, turned her inkhổng lồ a flower of the 'Ohi'a tree.

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This is the story of Metrosideros polymorpha, also known as 'ihi'a lehua, 'ohi'a, or just lehua. The story is apt: The tree, with its iron-hard wood, is almost impossible lớn imagine without its signature spray of vibrant orange-red or yellow flowers with long, slender stamens.


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'Apapane on 'ohi'a tree, Jack Jeffrey


A Lifeline for Native sầu Birds

'Ohi'a is a prolific tree that grows in an amazing variety of forms. Whether a twisted shrub or a tall, straight tree, it occurs in every soil type. It is also one the first plants lớn colonize new lava flows. Unlượt thích many other Hawaiian plants, it can live sầu in close proximity to lớn toxic volcanic gases by closing the pores of its leaves.

In Hawai'i, 'ohi'a is the most common native sầu tree species in the main islands. It is also one of the most important trees for native sầu Hawaiian birds such as 'Apapane and 'Akohekohe, which get their food from nectar-producing flowers. Dozens of extinct species would have fed frequently on 'ohi'a, too.


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I'iwi, Robby Kohley


In recent decades, other birds have sầu also come to rely on 'ohi'a. The 'I'iwi, with its sickle-shaped bill, is better adapted lớn lobelias & mints, but as these plants have become rare, 'I'iwi have sầu turned more to 'ohi'a. 'Apapane and 'I'iwi move up & down in elevation to lớn take advantage of 'ohi'a blooming at different times in different areas. Unfortunately, seeking out nectar sources at low elevations where malaria is prevalent can be risky—especially for birds like the 'I'iwi that are nomadic và highly vulnerable khổng lồ avian malaria.

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Threats to lớn the 'Ohi'a Tree

'Ohi'a is so critical to the survival of Hawai'i's native sầu birds that it is hard to imagine a vibrant avifauna without it. But the tree is increasingly threatened by plant diseases. 'Ohi'a rust, imported khổng lồ Hawai'i in decorative flower và foliage shipments from California, is established in Hawai'i & has the potential lớn devastate the state's one million acres of 'ohi'a. Meanwhile, an aggressive sầu fungus, Ceratocystis fimbriata, also known as rapid 'ohi'a death, has been identified as the cause of death of hundreds of thousands of 'ohi'a trees on over 34,000 acres on Hawai‘i Island.


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Rapid ohia death, Hawaii Public Radio/Molly Solomon


Hawai'i's native sầu birds face an uncertain future if disease overcomes the legendary 'ohi'a. So, it is essential that state and federal agencies increase the resources available to lớn understvà and deal with these disease threats, while at the same time ramping up currently inadequate biosecurity measures to prevent new diseases from getting lớn Hawai'i in the first place.

We can bởi nothing less. The birds of Hawai'i require it.

Editor's note: A version of this article first appeared in the spring 2015 edition of Bird Conservation magazine.

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George Wallace is ABC's Vice President of Oceans và Islands. George has been active sầu in bird research và conservation for over 30 years. Prior khổng lồ joining ABC, he worked for Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, Floridomain authority Fish và Wildlife Conservation Commission, Bird Studies Canada, The Nature Conservancy, Point Reyes Bird Observatory, & the U.S. Fish và Wildlife Service. He received an MS in Zoology from the University of Guelph & a PhD in Biology at the University of Missouri.


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