Miconia Removal

Malama O Puna recently finished up a Miconia eradication project focusing in 2 locations near Pahoa: the ‘Ginger Patch’ on Post Office Rd and along Ka’ohe Homesteads Rd. This project was funded by previous County Councilmember Eileen O’Hara.

Malama O Puna also submitted a letter in support of the State’s EA to allow introduction of a well studied biological control specific for Miconia…the Miconia Moth. Manual eradication efforts are difficult in rough jungle terrain and with the introduction of yet another invasive species…Little Red Fire Ants, workers are exposed to bites while trying to safely apply appropriate herbicde to the larger specimens.
MOP will continue work on this project through funding from District 5 Councilmember Matt Kaneali’i-Kleinfelder which will hopefully focus more on education of the public to help eradicate in people’s gardens and grants for high schoolers to develop tutorials on the process of evaluating, testing, and permiiting potential biological controls.

Miconia leafWhy, you may wonder, is a group like Malama O Puna, which is dedicated to saving trees, spending all this effort to kill some? MOP’s motto is “Preserving Hawai’i’s precious natural heritage”. Miconia is not part of that heritage, but a recent arrival, brought into our state deliberately, because it is a very attractive looking plant until you get to know it: its leaves are huge, with prominent veins on both upper and lower sides, with dark green velvety upper surface and burgundy underside. It comes from tropical South America, where there are other species which keep it under control. Ann with Miconia leafThat is not the case here in Hawai ‘i, so it grows rampantly without any natural enemies. Except us. Because it is such a prolific reproducer – the rabbit of the plant world – it is slowly taking over our native forest plants and the bird life which relies on them. In other words, it is a danger to Hawai ‘i’s precious natural heritage.

Miconia teamEvery time the Miconia Swat Team enters a new stretch of forest, one of the first things we notice is how beautiful it is. Each area is different, with different native species predominating, different topography, different birdsong. An adventure. Eradicating miconia gives us a chance to experience this beauty, and the satisfaction of knowing that our efforts are preserving it.