Tag Archives: Ohia

Part of Crater Rim Drive in Halemaumau Crater

Halemaumau Crater, at the summit of Kiluaea Volcano, underwent profound changes during the 2018 eruption. When lava drained from the summit vent, the crater floor experienced a series of collapses, radically changing the appearance of the crater and its surrounds.

I had seen this area from the air and posted about it (here). The middle photo was taken during that flight and shows where a section of Crater Rim Drive slid into the crater. When I last visited the park, I got a different view of this.

The recently reopened Byron Ledge Trail has good views across the crater. In the top photo, the chunk of road is clearly visible with its white line running down the middle of it. The bottom photo shows the longer view across the crater with the road in the distance. In the center of the photo, equipment used to monitor the volcano’s activity, can be seen. The tree in the foreground is an ‘ōhi‘a lehua with its brilliant red flowers. It’s an early colonizer of new lava flows and all those little dark spots on the main crater floor are ‘ōhi‘a lehua trees, mostly still shrub-sized at this time.

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.