East Hawaii News

Hawai’i Big Tree Competition Underway

January 6, 2016, 3:48 PM HST
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Coco. Department of Land and Natural Resources courtesy photo.

Coco. Department of Land and Natural Resources courtesy photo.

The annual Hawai’i Big Tree Competition, sponsored by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and American Forests, kicks off alongside the new year.

As a way to raise awareness about the importance of healthy trees and forests, the Big Tree program gives light to the largest trees of different native species.

Two previous Hawai’i Big Tree champions – A coconut tree from Hawai’i Kai known as “Coco” and an ‘a’ali’i tree from the Maui Botanical Garden – were the inspiration for the national competition.

Both fallen trees are being preserved or re-used at their locations so their spirit can continue.

Coco, the coconut palm, was crowned the National Big Tree coconut species winner and the National Ultimate Big Tree winner in 2014.

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Now, the two species along, with 19 other eligible species acknowledged by American Forests, are seeking champions.

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The current eight Hawai’i champions reside on the Big Island. Their full information is listed below:

Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis) in Waikoloa dry forest

(circumference: 186.96”) (height: 40’) (Crown Spread: 43.50’)

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Olopua (Nestegis sandwicensis) in Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve

(circumference: 204.52”) (Height: 32’) (Crown Spread: 42.58’)

Pāpalakēpau (Pisonia brunoniana) in Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve

(circumference: 52.46”) (Height: 28’) (Crown Spread: 15.25’)

Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) in Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve

(circumference: 165) (Height: 24) (Crown Spread: 25.5’)

Kōlea lau nui (Myrsine lessertiana) in Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve

(circumference: 85.14”) (height: 32’) (Crown Spread: 25.5’)

Koa (Acacia koa) in Kona Hema Preserve, South Kona

(Circumference: 343”) (Height: 115’) (Crown Spread: 93’)

Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus) in Hulihe‘e Palace, Kailua-Kona

(Circumference: 110”) (Height: 20’) (Crown Spread: 25’)

Mānele (Sophora chrysophylla) in Volcanoes National Park

(Circumference: 30”) (Height: 73’) (Crown Spread: 57’)

Currently, the Hawai’i Big Tree Competition does not have a champion for several Hawaiian species that are eligible for the National Big Tree Program. Since there are currently no champions in those categories, it is likely that any tree nominated would be crowned a National Champion.

The full list is below:

Lame, Diospyros sandwicensis

‘Ohi‘a ha, Syzygium sandwicense

‘Ohi‘a ai, Syzygium malaccense

Koki‘o ke‘oke‘o, Hibiscus arnottianus

Ma‘o hau hele, Hibiscus brackenridgei

Aloalo, Hibiscus clayii

Kāwa‘u, Ilex anomala

Nenelau, Rhus sandwicensis

Lonomea, Sapindus oahuensis

A‘e, Zanthoxylum oahuense

Wauke, Broussonetia papyrifera

Challenger trees are required to have more total points in order to replace a current champion. Points are gathered from a total of truck circumference in inches, plus height in feet, plus one-fourth average crown spread in feet.

Those interested in nominating a tree should contact Hawai’i Big Tree Coordinator Krista Lizardi by calling (808) 587-0164 or e-mail [email protected]. Nominators should have the tree height, trunk circumference, and average crown spread available. Specific tree locations, with GPD coordinates, are also helpful.

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