Tropical Gardening: Time to celebrate annual Hawaii Island Wiliwili Festival

Our forests and landscapes can change rapidly.

Hawaii’s endemic Erythrina sandwichensis, or wiliwili, is a colorful flowering tree of the dryland forests, and is vulnerable to threats such as feral pigs, goats, insects and diseases. According to Jen Lawson, executive director of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, the group is responsible for protecting a 275-acre tract, where rare and endangered shrubs and trees are safe from wild goats and other grazing animals.

Normally there would be an opportunity to visit this little known piece of our paradise as part of the Hawaii Island Wiliwili Festival, but because of COVID-19, Jen is encouraging folks to visit the group’s website, https:www.waikoloadryforest/wiliwilifestival/, for a virtual tour and other activities. There will be limited guided tours at the protected site from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Feb. 12-13, but with COVID restrictions in place, they are encouraging folks to go virtual.

Get involved in this great environmental endeavor.

Warming weather has created ideal conditions for Myrtle Rust (Austropuccinia psidii) to cause defoliation, dieback and even death of our beloved ohia and many other related species in the Myrtle family. About 150 species are susceptible including Mountain Apple, guava, eucalyptus, callistemon, melaleuca and

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Tropical Gardening: Rains leach nutrients from Hawaii soils

Although heavy periods of rainfall in some parts of our island have caused the loss of essential nutrients, other areas have experienced dry conditions. Some areas were even suffering from drought.

Parts of the windward side received enough precipitation to remove nutrients such as nitrogen and actual top soil as well. West Hawaii received much less, but with our excessively porous rocky areas even 5 or 6 inches of rain can leach important elements essential to plant growth.

We have had several calls asking why some palms appear to be dying in makai landscapes. The answer seems fairly obvious if one notices the brown grass and wilted shrubs nearby. As long as we have sufficient summer and fall rains, our landscapes stay green.

But when irrigation has been restricted, and once the rains stop, the entire region experiences drought conditions. Thus, hundreds of shrubs and trees could be on the verge of dying unless we get a drenching storm.

Where rains in some locations leached nutrients from the soil, farms, lawns and gardens may need fertilizer now. These rains cause active growth of coffee, ornamentals, macadamia and most other plants. Active growth requires a good supply of nutrients to assure

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