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.
Why, 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. That 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.
Every 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.