Ohia Lehua flower

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Country or State Flower.’ See more offerings here.

The country flower for the USA is the rose and I don’t have photos of those. The state flower for Hawaii is the hibiscus and, while I have lots of those, they’re all of Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). The state flower is the native yellow hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei) and I have none of those. The native hibiscus is not often seen in the wild and is currently considered an endangered species, but it is used as an ornamental in domestic gardens.

Having struck out on the two proper responses to this challenge, I’ve chosen to post photos of the official flower of the Big Island, the red ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha). A member of the myrtle family, ʻōhiʻa lehua is endemic to Hawaii. It’s one of the first trees to colonize lava flows. It’s able to survive in such a tough environment because its roots grow down into lava tubes and other voids in the lava and tap into the moisture there.

Recently, ʻōhiʻa trees have been attacked by a fungus which can cause the trees to die within a very short time. This disease, known as Rapid ‘Ohi’a Death, is caused by two new types of Ceratocystis fungus.

11 thoughts on “Ohia Lehua flower

    • Well, it’s not harsh for the fungus. All it needs is for the trees to be there. Since the fungus was previously unknown, I’m not sure whether it’s something new to the island or some variation on a fungus that was already here.

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    • Hopefully, a way to counter the fungus will be found soon. It took ages to properly identify what was causing the disease, it being an unknown strain of fungus.

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  1. Interesting about the Lehua flower, Graham, it’s resiliency but new threat to its lifespan! The tree and its flowers are gorgeous, I saw many while we were there. My mom’s front yard in San Diego has a flowering yellow hibiscus plant. It has been there since I can remember. Perhaps a different variety than Hawaii’s?

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