ʻŌhiʻa Love Fest 2020 Going Virtual

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The ʻōhia blossom. PC: Sean Moura, Hawaiian Electric wildlife biologist and senior environmental scientist.

The coronavirus may have kept some Hawai‘i residents out of nature for portions of the previous year, but it can’t keep them from loving nature all the same.

The pandemic is now providing the opportunity for ‘ōhi‘a lovers across the state to participate in the annual ʻŌhiʻa Love Fest, which previously has been held as an in-person event in Hilo.

Anyone, anywhere can celebrate Hawai‘i’s most abundant tree, ‘ōhi‘a lehua, during this week-long virtual event.


‘Ōhi‘a is critical to providing the water we drink, keeping our ocean reefs clean, and is important to the native Hawaiian culture. This year’s ʻŌhiʻa Love Fest, the 4th annual, runs from Monday, Nov.16 through Saturday, Nov. 21. ‘Ōhi‘a lovers of all ages will be treated to a fun-filled and educational week of workshops, videos, arts, crafts, and cultural sharing. All activities are free, but some do require advance registration.

As in past years, the festival celebrates ʻōhiʻa lehua as Hawaii’s most ecologically and culturally important tree species. ‘Ōhi‘a is currently under threat from two deadly fungal pathogens, resulting in a disease known as Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD). Included in the week’s activities will be information about how ROD spreads and the actions needed to protect remaining healthy ʻōhiʻa.

Below are just a few of the week’s events. Those marked with an asterix require advanced registration at http://ohialovefest.eventbrite.com.

  • How to grow ‘ōhi‘a in residential yards and community gardens, by JC Watson of ‘Ōhi‘a Legacy Initiative on Monday, Nov. 16 @ 10 a.m.*
  • “A Day in the Life of the ‘Ōhi‘a Field Crew,” by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee on Wednesday, Nov. 18 @ 10 a.m.*
  • “Cultural Importance of ‘Ōhi‘a: Past and Present,” from Bishop Museum’s cultural
    experts on Wednesday, Nov. 18 @ 1 p.m.*
  • How to identify ‘ōhi‘a by species and variety, by Dr. JB Friday of the UH Cooperative
    Extension Service on Thursday, Nov. 19th @ 10 a.m.*
  • How to collect ‘ōhi‘a seeds to help preserve these trees for future generations, by Marian Chau of Kalehua Consulting on Friday, Nov. 20 @ 10 a.m.*
  • How to grow your own lei garden, with Lei Wann of Limahuli Garden National Tropical Botanical Garden on Saturday, Nov. 21 @ 10 a.m.*
  • The three-time Emmy award-winning film “Saving ‘Ōhi‘a – Hawaii’s Sacred Tree,” a documentary about the fight against the ROD disease. Attendees are encouraged to engage with and ask questions to ROD scientists live.

A free keiki crafts kit will be available at the following public libraries while supplies last. The kits include a coloring book, field guide, crafts, and a sticker.

  • Hawai‘i Island: Hilo Public Library
  • Maui: Wailuku Public Library and Hawaii State Library
  • Kaua‘i: Hanapepe Public Library, Kapa‘a Public Library, Koloa Public Library, Līhuʻe Public Library, Princeville Public Library, Waimea Public Library

The full schedule and links for workshop registrations are available at www.RapidOhiaDeath.org. More information can be found at http://ohialovefest.eventbrite.com, www.Facebook.com/RapidOhiaDeath, or www.Instagram.com/OhiaLife.

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