Better Days: Girdled tree

A dead tree stands out on Pu'u Wa'awa'a

This dead tree on the slopes of Pu’u Wa’awa’a did not die of natural causes. The pale strip near the bottom of the trunk is where the tree was girdled.

The tree is, I’m pretty sure, a silk oak. Native to Australia, these trees were introduced to Hawaii around 1880. When in bloom, they present a mass of brilliant orange flowers, but they seed prolifically and also produce an allelopathic substance that inhibits the growth of other plants. Because of this, they can crowd out native plants, of which there are many on Pu’u Wa’awa’a, so trees in areas where they have become too dense or are not wanted, are girdled.

For more information about Pu’u Wa’awa’a and its trails, go to puuwaawaa.org.

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