Monday, February 26, 2018

Ohia Trees Are Now In Bloom

Ohia is an Hawaiian tree. Young trees look rather like a scrubby bush, but as they mature, especially in a forest, they become towering trees. 

Photo...taken in the rain, so it's not a great photo. Sorry. 

And one unique tree it is! It is well adapted to growing in pure lava where nutrients are difficult and moisture scarce (even when it rains frequently, the moisture tends to rapidly drain away). It is one of the first plants to colonize fresh lava fields, being very opportunistic and adaptable. It will tolerate desert to boggy conditions, soil to no soil, low elevations to high elevations. It is evergreen, but sheds leaves throughout the year, creating its own mulch beneath its canopy. It's root system totally amazes me because it is aggressively fibrous, sending massive numbers of rootlets out in a dense mat in just about every direction, including up. Yes, up. I've created raised beds around ohia trees only to find the bed completely rooted in 2-3 years later. It also sends roots out from the truck, which eventually reach the ground and anchor the tree. On top of that, certain trees will also produce masses of air roots, red colored and alien looking. 

This tree is a big one, with a 24" diameter truck. 

Our farm is loaded with ohia trees. Most are healthy, though we've lost a few from damage by previous land users. Recently we lost a few to a fungal disease. But all in all, our ohias are doing fine. We've got a few big ones dotted here and there (18" to 24" diameter trunks) but by-and-large, most are medium 6"-12" trunks. 

(Photo.... bright red flowers amid silvery, grayish green foliage.) 

The honey bees love the nectar from the brilliant red flowers. The flowers are called lehua flowers. Thus the honey is called lehua honey, a thick, whitish, crystalline honey that spreads like a soft peanut butter.  The flavor is unique and nothing like you find in supermarket honey. I never liked honey before I tried raw Hawaiian honeys, but I quickly fell in love. My own lehua honey is in my top 3 favorite honeys. 

Photo.....close up of the lehua blooms.'s why I chatting about the ohia tree. On the farm they are in bloom. Beautiful. In fact, they started blooming in earnest 2 weeks ago and I'm now seeing more and more trees sporting red flowers. And though red is the dominant color, I also see the occasional orange and the even rarer yellow lehua flowers. 

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