Rapid ohia death has now come to the Gathering Place, having previously cropped up on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources reported Wednesday that one of the species of fungus killing ohia was detected by a team from the Oahu Invasive Species Committee and the Koolau Mountain Watershed Partnership.

They recently sampled a dead ohia tree on private land in a remote area in the mountains above Pearl City.

This photo was taken from aerial survey on Oahu of rapid ohia death, May 15. DLNR

“The sample was analyzed by the USDA Agriculture Research Service lab in Hilo,” according to a press release. “It confirmed the presence of Ceratocystis huliohia. Although this is the less aggressive of the two Ceratocystis species associated with ROD, it still has the ability to kill ohia trees.”

The DLNR said that the location of the infected tree “is extremely remote and it is considered highly unlikely to have been spread by people.”

Still, residents should stay alert because ohia is a “keystone species providing important watershed cover for recharging the island’s aquifer, habitat for endangered species, and cultural uses such as hula performances.”

Here are some “ROD” tips:

  • Avoid injuring ohia. Open wounds on ohia are an entry point for disease spores. The disease can also spread from tree to tree on machetes or other tools.
    Don’t transport ohia inter-island.
  • Don’t move ohia wood or vegetation, especially from areas known to have ROD.
  • Clean your hiking boots/gear/tools. Scrub off all dirt and spray boot soles and tools with 70% rubbing alcohol, and wash your clothes in hot water and use a dryer to ensure the disease is not spread on boots and clothing.
  • Wash your vehicle if driving near ohia forests. The disease can remain alive and infectious in soil, so wash all dirt off vehicles.

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