Foresters with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) sampled 10 dead 'ohi'a in two locations within the Lihue-Koloa Forests reserve -- six of those trees testing positive for Ceratocystis lukuohia, the more virulent of the two fungal pathogens causing Rapid 'Ohi'a Death.

Last year, the Kaua'i Rapid Response Team reported the presence of C. lukuohia on a Department of Hawaiian Home Lands parcel behind Kalalea Mountain in Anahola. Now, 22 total trees in three separate location across the Kaua'i have tested positive for this more virulent species of the two fungi that cause Rapid 'Ohi'a death.

“The lukuohia species is much more aggressive than the huliohia species,” said Sheri S. Mann, DOFAW Kauai Branch Manager. “It is very important to do all we can not to accidentally spread the pathogen around on our vehicles, boots, and clothes.”

More than a million trees have died on the Big Island since the disease was first identified -- with more than 90 percent of those trees testing positive for C. lukuohia. The six trees discovered on Kaua'i to test positive for the disease were located in the Lihu‘e-Koloa Forest Reserve—five near the Kalaheo-Lawai section and one in the Wailua section of the forest reserve. Experts are asking for people's help in containing the disease.

“These deadly microscopic fungal pathogens can be moved around the island in mud,” said Tiffani Keanini, project manager of the Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee (KISC). “Theoretically, all it takes is one spore to infect an 'ohi'a tree. So, we’re stressing bio-sanitation practices. Basically, leave mud where you found it. That may be easier said than done, but every little bit helps.”

 

Experts encourage these practices:

 1) Avoid injuring 'ohi'a. Wounds serve as entry points for the fungus and increase the odds that the tree will become infected and die. Avoid pruning and contact with heavy equipment wherever possible. Avoid cutting new trails in 'ohi'a forests and stepping on their roots.

2) Clean gear and tools, including shoes and clothes, before and after entering the forest and areas where 'ohi'a may be present. Brush all soil off tools and gear, then spray with 70% rubbing alcohol. Wash clothes with hot water and soap and, if possible, dry on the high heat setting in the dryer.

3) Wash your vehicle with a high-pressure hose or washer if you’ve been off-roading or have picked up mud from driving. Clean all soil off tires--including mountain bikes and motorcycles--and vehicle undercarriage, preferably with soap and water.

4) Don’t move 'ohi'a wood or 'ohi'a parts, including adjacent soil. The disease can be spread to new areas by moving plants, plant parts, and wood from infected areas to non-infected areas.

5) Keep your eyes open. If you see 'ohi'a with a limb or crown turning brown, take a picture and send it to KISC via email (saveohia@hawaii.edu) or phone (808-821-1490) and describe exactly where you saw the tree. Samples of the wood must be taken by trained technicians and tested in a laboratory to confirm the presence of the ROD fungi.