On the Island of Hawaiʻi, Kaluapele (the pit of pele or Pele) crowns the summit region of the volcano Kīlauea.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

March 14, 2019, Thursday, Reminders of ʻŌlaʻi and not-so-Random Curiosities

Whew!  That was a rattle...1255a yesterday morning, wakened out of a very sound slumber.  My first thought:  OH! Sheʻs starting again!  It was loud and jerky.  And it was dark, and the webcams were seeing darkness too, and I figured "What I going do?".  Wondered if there were any more collapses at the Lua, wondered where the ʻōlaʻi, the earthquake, was centered, generally wondered...  So I went back sleep.

The image above, for those of you who have been with me since summer last, is a familiar one.  The M5.5 ʻōlaʻi happened just ma kai of the Chain of Craters Road, kinda close to the Mauloa o Maunaulu pullout.  That linearish cluster of quakes in the vicinity are near the ma uka edges of those big pali Hilina, Poliokeawe, and Hōlei.  Pali are formed along zones of instability as the slopes of our mauna sometimes slipslide toward the ocean.  Not at all unusual.

I had wondered, since last August 2, after our last lūʻōniu (collapse explosion), when we might feel another ʻōlaʻi.  It was a bit unnerving, but dwelling on What If serves no useful purpose, so on we go.

There are our friends the Webcams:

HVO Webcams

LOTS to peruse and choose from, though my favorites are KEcam, and PEcam.  

Recently added was the K3cam, perched on the rim and peering into the abyss:

This view is vertiginous.  I get dizzy when I contemplate being there.  So steep and hundreds of feet deep and surfaced with loose rock, you cannot see the bottom.  Much of the time the K3cam doesnʻt provide a good view because of poor lighting, steams and vapors, rain...  But there are windows of opportunity.

Maybe because Iʻm so visual, I enjoy looking at the weathers, the lighting as the day progresses, where and when the sun and moon rise and set, what our ao lewa, our cloud-floating-above-lua are up to, all that.  Some may think "Oh just look the cam!  No need go outside!".  And of course my reaction would include:

be outside...pay attention!       noho i waho...a maliu!

You must be outside.  To smell, to feel on your skin the chill, the heat, the mists and torrential downpours.  Gotta.  Otherwise itʻs like watching somebody eat the ono-ist food and not being able to taste or smell it.  Torture...


The Hawaiʻi Board on Geographic Names has kindly posted a link to a sheet listing proposed names for Fissure 8.  The link is under the green HGBN:

Itʻs all part of a process.  I have a favorite, and perhaps you do too.  Those with kuleana for  Keahialaka, the ahupuaʻa in which F8 is located have input, and I have faith that a good decision will eventually be reached.

TryLook at the submittal by Larry Kimura.  He and others propose "Papalauahi", as not the name for Fissure 8, but as the name for the entire eruption in Keahialaka.  The packet submitted is chockfull of archival information, and makes for informative and provocative reading.

Pepeʻe do their thing:

As mentioned last time, growth burgeons.  Hāpuʻu, ʻamaʻu, uluhe and other ferns are sending out pepeʻe...uncoiling fronds.  Iʻm looking forward to watching again their young tender bright green lau tremble in breezes.  The understory of the forest always looks fresh and clean when fronds are young.

All three pics above are of hāpuʻu pulu.  Pulu is the golden fur covering the pepeʻe.  Birds sometimes use it to build nests, and in the old days, pulu was used to dress wounds, and to prepare bodies for burial.

In the 1800ʻs, pulu was an export from the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi to America, Australia, etc.  It was primarily used as stuffing for mattresses and pillows.  The Ahwahnee, a famous hostelry in Yosemite used it as such.  But.  While pulu is soft at first, it isnʻt particularly resilient and breaks down relatively quickly.

I assembled this table years ago from stats in Thrumʻs Hawaiian Annual.  UH Mānoa has it online.  BEWARE!!!  This is probably for weekend clicking only...when you have time to spare.

Thrumʻs Hawaiian Annual

It still boggles my mind that hundreds of thousands of pounds were picked, dried, bundled, and exported.  Boggling.  Hawaiʻi Volcanoes has remains of a pulu processing area along the trail to Napau crater.  It was an open field with stonewalled accessory buildings.  Pulu from there was shipped from Keauhou Landing, also in the park.  Amazing to contemplate, but pulu was harvested from many different rain forests.

About ʻaʻaliʻi:

He ʻaʻaliʻi kū makani mai au; ʻaʻohe makani nāna e kulaʻi
I am a wind-resisting ʻaʻaliʻi; no gale can push me over

The above is an oft-cited ʻōlelo noʻeau from Mary Kawena Pukuʻi alluding to how the people of Kaʻū are resilient.

ʻAʻaliʻi are among many plants in bloom now...Many mistake their seedpods for flowers, perhaps because the flowers are so small and insignificant, while the pods ripen to showy masses.

Iʻve been perplexed by their flowers and pods and what grows on which plant.  So I asked a friend:
So in some cases, perplexments are perfectly justifiable.  Go figure.  And to empower you folks:  Busʻ out the dictionary...

This is I think female with a teeny tiny pod developing, I think:

 This I think is male, with pollen hidden in flowers, I think:

 Mature red capsules.  Thanks, ac!

And my bestest favorite from Hualālai, what I call "black" though itʻs not.  Dark dark dark red.  Junk picture, but you get the idea:

OK.  Nuff for now.  I gotta get dressed and holo.

Till soon.  As always, with aloha,


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sunday, February 24, 2019, Down there on the LERZ in Puna ma kai

The best laid plans, tra la la...

This year of the Earth Pig is, so far, a busy one.  We see masses of blooms on many trees:  mango and summer pea (ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi: peh-uh, for "pear" aka avocado), jacaranda in Kona ʻĀkau,  the startling gold trees in Hilo, previously mentioned bright orange African tulips in windward gulches, etc etc etc.

If you recall, last time I mentioned our drought.  So much for "midst".  Soon thereafter we had seven or so inches of rain up here, and rains over Hawaiʻi nei have continued.  Yesterday, driving home from Hōlualoa on Māmalahoa, the "ma uka road" from Kailua to Waimea, I wondered at the fog and low clouds caught in ʻōhiʻa and lama near the Scenic Point on the 1800 flow.  Different...

Different and equally amazing I think, is the map released by USGS HVO folks a few days ago:

2018 LERZ Flow Thickness Map

The imagery helps put in context the mindbending awesomeness of the prodigious work of Pelehonuamea.  Nine HUNDRED feet thick!  And of course she was able to do that because flows entered the ocean.

Volume of collapse at Kaluapele and pele erupted in Keahialaka are estimated at .8 cubic kilometers each, more or less.  In perhaps more familiar terms, 1,046,360,480 cubic yards.
Thatʻs a Billion + cubic yards.  

And I must say something (again) about reopening roadways in the region.  The Lava Hazard Zone has not changed because the eruption ended.  The area is still in Hazard Zones 1 and 2, the most hazardous.  

There are people whose homes and farms remain lavalocked.  Two sections of Hwy 132 are buried:  about 1.5 miles closest to the "Y" near Lava Tree State Park, and about 1.6 miles as it passes Waiapele (Kapoho Crater).  Total buried is about 3 miles.

Iʻve spent far too much time during the last several weeks talking to folks in our County Government.  People who work for us.  People in the Mayorʻs office, an informal hallway chat with the Mayor, Council people, the staff of Council people, Public Works people, construction people, geologists, Planning Department people, Department of Research and Development people...lots of people.  I wanted to know why hasnʻt work started on even a basic, temporary, gravel road to allow access for residents.

It all boils down to "Harry Said Gotta Wait Six Months".  Again, there is absolutely no physical basis, fact, or reason that a temporary route(s) canʻt be opened.  The eruption is over.  The "Six Month" claim, as explained by the Mayor to me, is because in 1990, when lava was inundating Kalapana, HVO scientists told him to "Wait Six Months" before repaving streets and roadways.  Of course back then Kīlauea was still erupting.  And erupted for another 28 years.  Why repave or fix, when pele may well come again? 

The eruption is over, and has been since September.  There is no reason or need to wait six months.

But still might be hot, but might get lava tubes, but get big cracks, but stay dangerous, but gotta make LIDAR, but gotta bore holes, but gotta survey, but gotta reach consensus, but gotta make Section 106 compliance, but you donʻt understand, but but but....

And meantime, residents are in limbo, not knowing when.


A tidy new road from the "Y" to the Puna Geothermal Venture property.  Up over the levee, across large māwae (fissures or cracks), across the bed of the channel, up the other bank, and home.  Didnʻt hear of any incidents of bulldozers falling into holes or sinking into hot lava, or....nothing.  They made the road.  And this is just ma kai of Fissure 8.

And The County made road over three fingers of pele to allow access to Pohoiki.  That road opened on December 6, 2018:

Someone in a position to know said Oh.  Easy.  Can do ʻum right now.  Money isnʻt an issue, hazards arenʻt issues, we just GPS the route and go.

Why we gotta wait?  Oh.  Gotta meet.  Gotta talk to stake holders.  Gotta gotta gotta.

If someone in the County would only issue a bulletpoint statement saying clearly and succinctly WHY gotta wait, Iʻm open to learning.  But it seems that all this is the usual governmental bureaucratic shibai.  Itʻs so much easier to say No.  No can.  Gotta meet.  Gotta wait.  No.  Nope.  ʻAʻole.  My head like explode...  They seem to forget, as do we sometimes, that They Work for Us.  

From our friend Mick Kalber:  TryLook new roads made by residents:

New Roads on Lava

S  I  G  H......

OK then...Stuff to do, life to live...

As always, with aloha,


Monday, February 18, 2019

Monday, February 18, 2019. Catching up (perhaps)...

And here we be, in the midst of our El Nino drought.  Though if "midst" means middleish, how do we know?  According to my not entirely accurate rain gauge, weʻve had just a couple inches of rain so far this year.  Here at the uppermost reaches of Keaʻau, we hear water trucks pass by the house, on their way to water homes in need.  During my nearly 34 years in Volcano, my 3,500 gallon tank, at the lowest, was a quarter full.  That after three months of zero rain.  Sources say that "moisture from the south" is on its way this evening.  We shall see.

And all our blooming plants will be grateful for the moisture too.  When theyʻre used to 100+ inches of rain a year and they have to subsist on heavy dew, they arenʻt happy.  "Spring" on windward Hawaiʻi means mango trees flush with big heavy clusters of flowers, African tulips setting windward gulches ablaze with orangeness, and lehua bloom too, though not as abundantly, perhaps wanting to be fed by rain first.  And we await hāpuʻu and other ferns unfurling their pepeʻe, their coiled fiddleheads.  The understory of our rainforest turns a vibrant lightgreen when fronds are fresh, quivering in the faintest breeze.  Stay tuned for a photo or two at the appropriate time.  

For now, above is an accidental photo.  Right place, right time, etc.  Itʻs a Western yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica, on its way to get nectar from lehua.  Vespula are a nasty nasty invasive species, with mean stings.  And they build big nests in the ground. And they happen to take nectar that otherwise would be eaten by our own endemic yellow-faced bees and birds:  ʻapapane, ʻamakihi, etc...  Trying hard not to rant here...

Whatʻs been odd of late is that weʻve seen none of the stormy weathers that visited much of the rest of our state.  It seems that our place here at the southeast extreme of the chain has been protected by The Mountains.  All weʻve seen for the most part is a tiny bit of pakaua, that big-drop-banging-roof-rain, and cool...or rather COLD mornings for a week or more.  Itʻs been in the low 40s at sunrise for days.  Kinda hard to crawl out from under the three quilts.  And when we wear longjohns on our walks in the morning...

Though the above is from a webcam, the cold morning wind coming down from the mountain...brrrrr.  And what looks like snow, Iʻm pretty sure is patchy hail.  Almost looks like a pinto horse.

Mornings have been generally cloudfree, making our walk to Keanakākoʻi viewlicious.  Though I have to say that clouds, judiciously placed here and there, add interest to the scene.

And since weʻre here at the summit, I thought Iʻd share the above, so we donʻt forget The Three Months.  All of the ʻōlaʻi depicted were small enough not to be felt, though Iʻm glad theyʻre being recorded, if for nothing else as a reminder that Sheʻs still present, albeit deep down.

 Below, more or less the same image from June 16, 2018:

Itʻs important to remember, though many seem to have gone on with life.  If you werenʻt here near the summit and Kaluapele, or down at Keahialaka last summer, maybe impacts werenʻt as great.  But I continue to startle at the odd noise...

And in the nature of remembering, we remember our longtime friend Linda.  She came into my life at Maniniʻōwali, during the camping trip the full moon of January 1976, written about here a few weeks ago.  The evening of January 26th Leenda (think Spanish accent), or Naiʻa as she was also fondly known, suffered an aneurysm, and died just before sunrise on Monday, January 28, 2019.

Though we hadnʻt spent much time together of late, she was always there in the back of my mind.  Processing shocking sudden death has it challenges, no matter that Iʻve lost more than a few loved ones.  Itʻs never easy.  And so I paid close attention when I was watching Bluebloods on TV the other night, when near the close of the program came the following.  Itʻs from a Greek playwright named Aeschylus who lived from 525BC to 456BC:

And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.

Please note that "awful" in this context has an archaic meaning:  Inspiring reverential wonder or fear.

We do the best we can, how we can, and try to live better lives.

As always, with aloha,


Monday, January 21, 2019

Monday, January 21, 2019. Tis a brisk one...

Brrrr.  When I awaken in the morning and Iʻm feeling chilly, I look at the windows.  Theyʻre single-paned.  The amount of condensation on the glass indicates how cold it is outside.  Today, early, the glass was covered.  No wonder:

Yesterday, at sunset time on Maunakea, Māhealani (the full moon), in partial eclipse, rose behind Makanaka, and just over the tip of the shadow cast by our beloved mountain.  Thanks hf for sharing, again.

And 43 years ago this morning, I awoke on the sand at Maniniʻōwali, on the shore of Kua bay.  Friends and I had backpacked in from Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway, it having been opened on March 21, 1975.  We wanted to be at a favorite place to observe Māhealani.  As it turned out, the Full Moon of January 1976, has become a milestone in our lives.  Tōb and I met HK and Naiʻa.  And our friendships endure.  And for that I am grateful.

And this briskchill morning up here is clear...no clouds to hold in the heat...but we get to see and enjoy, albeit remotely, Māhealani on its way down behind Maunaloa.

Weʻll wait for the day (and creaky joints) to warm a bit before heading out for our walk.

I was at Pohoiki yesterday.  For the first time since I canʻt remember when.  My mental files needed an update after The Three Months, and so I ventured down to Puna ma kai.  The lush green vegetation, the narrow roads, the heavy air...all were familiar.  But there was a bit of confusion and perplexments.  Where was that place?  Where was that view?  How come the wind is different?  But the billowing ʻehu kai (sea spray) wafted by the considerable shorebreak was there, a phenomenon seen when large swells pound our shores.

The new sand is coarse, and the topography of the shore is constantly changing as surfs roll in on tides high and low.  You can see the sorting action of the waves above:  heavier bigger pōhaku are closer to the ocean, while the fines are a little ma uka.  When the shore break rolls in, aside from the crashing sound of the waves, if you listen, there is a low rumble...a series of ocean sighs...as boulders and smaller cobbles roll up then down the steep underwater slope.  At Kahanu Garden on Maui, the site of Piʻilanihale, an adjacent shore is blanketed with ʻiliʻili, waterworn pebbles.  They too sigh, but at a higher pitch than the boulders of Pohoiki.

The scene above, as idyllic as it may seem, was quite a bit different than reality.  The breeze, the full parking lot, the many people coming and going, and the tumultuous crashing shore break are all there, but out of sight of the lens.  A different view of reality.  And if you look closely the pele can be seen through the gap in the trees.  

With that, Iʻll leave you today...

As always, with aloha,


Friday, January 18, 2019

Friday, January 18, 2019. Roads and flows...

Testing, testing...

I think this works for me:  Go sleep early, wake up early, and while the neighborhood is still quiet and mostly asleep, and itʻs dark outside, I write.  That was the pattern developed during The Three Months, when prolonged sound sleeping wasnʻt an option for me.  Too much disconcerting shaking, the subconscious waiting for the next lūʻōniu, those 5.3 equivalent magnitude no tsunami generated events that guided our lives.  We waited, they happened, then for a half day or more, all was quiet.  Till it wasnʻt.

And now, in the quiet, I still wonder...when???  And mostly I marvel, that after all that, itʻs so very quiet.  So quiet that ears ring.  You know that quiet?  And on our walks recently, the winds have been still and the air chill.  And absent the racket of helicopters, and when we go early enough that weʻre The First on the scene, and we pause, and listen, our ears hear only the hum of the universe. 

Then in these times of changeable weathers, sometimes the wind comes from the southeast.  And while in summer that wind is warm and humid, these days itʻs jacket-brisk.  Itʻs ka makani kapalili lau ʻōlapa.  A wind that flutters ʻōlapa leaves.  We enjoy that sight along Crater Rim Drive where ʻōlapa are becoming more and more common.  Itʻs an understory tree, sometimes, in wet forest, an epiphyte growing in the crotches of ʻōhiʻa.  Clusters of the darkest purple fruit make a purple dye, and the leaves have a strong, unique ʻōlapa scent.  Dye samples below are from friend lr, an inveterate experimenter with all things having to do with kapa.

The colors above came from the fruits below:

And lau ʻōlapa quiver and quake because leaflets have long thin stems:

The scent comes from a...a stickyish shiny juice (donʻt know how else to describe it) produced by the plant.  And maybe when stems and leaves are crushed and mixed with the dye solution they "varnish" kapa making it shiny.  

Oh.  And hula dancers are ʻōlapa, the motion of their hands and arms recalling kapalili, the fluttering of leaflets.

And OH too:  The butterscotch brilliance of pua māmane, also now making an appearance in the forest along Crater Rim Drive, this by eb.  Itʻs her favorite.

I had the intensely memorable pleasure one day decades ago, with Tōb and HK (I think), of tasting māmane honey.  It tasted exactly like...butterscotch candy.  An amazement.

And another amazement:  I donʻt quite understand the apparent lack of urgency to reopen rudimentary access over the pele in Puna ma kai.  Maybe discussions are being had, but all Iʻve heard about in media is "Six Months".  Gotta wait Six Months.  I was talking with an acquaintance at the County Building several weeks ago, and Mayor Kim happened by.  I asked why the wait, and he said that in 1990, HVO staff said to wait Six Months before attempting to reopen roads.  Before I could suggest an explanation, he went upstairs.

My Explanation.  And no, I wasnʻt present during the conversation(s) in 1990, but I WAS working at the park, and 1990 was the year that Pele slowly inundated the Kalapana area.  

Christina Helicker, a geologist with HVO, and other staff spent a LOT of time documenting the change.  Note that the pele is pāhoehoe.  Smooth, thin, silvery.  Thus was the relatively gentle nature of the flows in those days.  They issued from Kupaianaha, a vent downrift of Puʻu'ōʻō, and traveled through insulating lava tubes, seven, eight, nine, and more miles to their destination on the coast.  Those flows were very very different in character than the recent pele in Keahialaka, Kapoho, Pohoiki, and surrounding areas. 

In 1990, Pelehonuamea was of course very active, moving there and here and there again.  She had first reached the highway, then the ocean, in late 1986, having traveled ma kai from Kupaianaha.  Short buried sections of road were reopened when she took a break or went elsewhere, but eventually it became a pointless (and expensive) exercise to maintain road access.  So Iʻll guess that HVO said JustWait.  Maybe wait Six Months.

And of course Pele continued her work for decades, inexorably exploring and visiting beloved places in Puna ma kai.  And then, The Three Months.  And then, She stopped.  For now.  Giving us pause.  All indications are that after more than three decades (35 years or so), Pele rests.  

We have no reason to think that sheʻll start again soon without some warning, though of course She might.  The lavas erupted in Keahialaka are hard.  Theyʻll remain hot inside for years because in some places theyʻre tens of feet thick and well-insulated.  But theyʻre hard.  Bulldozers can (and have) easily traversed surfaces of the flows.  A road has been opened to Pohoiki.  The people at Puna Geothermal Venture have opened access to their property.

Owners of unburied properties in Puna ma kai must be allowed the opportunity for access. Sooner rather than later.  There is no physical, geological reason access cannot be provided now.  At least along the route of Highway 132, the road from the "Y" to Kapoho.  And no, the lava should not be "removed" from what was the road.  Make the rudimentary access On Top.  A gravel road.  Figure out how to make that happen.  Itʻs so easy to say Oh.  Cannot.  Get law.  Get Regulation.  Cannot.  That, my friends, is the easy way out:  Cannot.  "Cannot" must not be an option.  Figure out what needs to be done so Can.  NOW!

To recap something I posted awhile ago (I think).  
According to the online flow map posted by Civil Defense, Highway 132 is about 5.25 miles long.  Or so.  There are two sections buried by pele, and a kīpuka.  Section 1 (buried) = 1.5 miles.  Then a kīpuka of 1.9 miles.  Then Section 2 (buried) = 1.6 miles.

According to my basic clicking and measuring math, about 3 miles of the road is buried.  Letʻs use the work that Goodfellow Brothers did to make Chain of Craters passable in case of emergency in May and June 2018 as an example.  

Work started on May 31, 2018, and the road was ready for cars on June 2, 2018.  THREE DAYS.  The distance was .7 (seven-tenths) mile, itʻs 26 feet wide (two lanes), and cost $120,000.  

My maybe poor attempt at math (never my best subject):  To make a 3-mile-long gravel road on top of the flow that buried HWY 132 might take 5 days and cost $600,000.  Doesnʻt sound like a lot to me, especially when recovery figures of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars are tossed around.  And when residents are waiting and waiting and waiting...

Just Do It already!

OK.  The sun has risen, itʻs 51dF outside.  I gotta go nibble then get ready to walk.

As always, with aloha, and today, especially to LD-S and AR!!!


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday, January 13, 2019. About those denizens, and monkeypods at UHWO

Another overcast and completely still morning.  Not a breath of breeze to tremble the hāpuʻu fronds or quake lau ʻōlapa.  Thereʻs a minor bloom of ʻōhia in the area, adding bits of brightness to the forest.  In the old days, especially on Oʻahu, there were thousands of bits of brightness amongst the trees.  Those denizens I mentioned are/were kāhuli, or pūpū kani oe.  Tree snails.  Particularly those in the genus Achatinella.  Google away, please.  Nona Beamer singing "Kāhiki aku, kāhuli mai...", and any number of densely interesting scientific papers will reveal themselves too.

But a perhaps not so concise summary:  On January 1, 2019, "George", the last surviving individual (as far as is known) of Achatinella apexfulva died. It was kamaʻāina to a particular place in the Koʻolau on Oʻahu.

Hearing news of his demise while on Oʻahu last weekend I suppose was appropriate, because Oʻahu was home to hundreds of species of kāhuli, three-quarters of which are now extinct.  The news stirred memories.  Memories from decades ago.  And it stirred sadness, and appreciation, and longing for times long gone.

In the 70s and 80s (I think), Bill and Mae Mull lived in Volcano Village.  They were "retired".  Bill was, after retirement, a Research Associate for Bishop Museum, and Mae worked tirelessly with the Hawaiʻi Audubon Society.  I hadnʻt thought about them in awhile.  Bill was one of the people who inspired myself and many others, taught us, and encouraged us.  He was kind, approachable, humble, and a photographic genius.  

He worked quietly in his Volcano home photographing kāhuli he hand-carried from Oʻahu, and happy-face spiders, and, and, and... Go find a copy of "Hawaiian Insects and their Kin" by Frank Howarth and Bill Mull.  Billʻs photos are an amazement.  And go look at 

ʻuluʻulu archive

for footage of Bill and many many others back in the day.  That archive, created, I believe, by Heather Giugni is housed at...UHWO.  I forgot to remember to go look when I was there.

I can still hear Bill talking about his snails, and their names:  Achatinella apexfulva, Achatinella lila; he adored them all.  Achatinella give birth to live young, and Billʻs slide shows (remember slides?) were wonder full.  In the field on walks through Kīpukapuaulu, or the forests of ʻŌlaʻa, his easy familiarity with the plants and their unique characteristics taught me to see.  And heʻd often conduct "Root Examinations", pulling up kahili ginger or other invasive species so we could see their roots.  Of course the point was to kill weeds.

Cherished memories of a gentler time.  Sigh.......

So.  Kāhuli live(d) in trees.  LOTS of snails.  So many that there were collecting parties.  Walk into the forest with a stick, whack branches, pick up snails.  Look at the Bishop Museum species list I shared yesterday:  Terrestrial (on land) Gastropods (snails and slugs).  We have/had, as of 1994 when the list was compiled, a total of 831 species, of which 759 are/were endemic, and 50+ NIS (Non-Indigenous Species).  75% or more of them are Extinct.  Each valley, each ridge on Oʻahu had its own species.  The diversity boggles the mind.

Kāhuli lived in trees, but they didnʻt eat the leaves.  They were/are little vacuum cleaners, rasping up films and bits of fungus, limu, etc.  They kept leaves clean, mayhaps to maximize photosynthesis.  The blackness on ʻōhiʻa and kōlealaunui below is kāhuli food.

Just like the Mystery Photo I posted awhile ago:

Snail trails on the tailgate of a Volcano vehicle.  Pretty cool I think.

Hereʻs a collage used on HPR/NPR Science Friday, glorious photo by David Sischo, of Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Department of Land and Natural Resources on Oʻahu.  His title is "Snail Extinction Prevention Program Coordinator".  Mahalo piha for your works!!!

Mostly on ʻōhiʻa leaves...youʻll get an idea of scale.

And to close for Sunday...the clouds are burning off as they have been the last few days.  

Burnt by the sun.  As is the plain of ʻEwa.  Hot.  Dry.  Sere.  So unlike Mānoa, where the rain Tuahine provides ample moisture for the growth of many things, and recharges the watertable.  The McCarthy Mall on the UH campus there is iconic, as is the use of monkeypods for plantscapes on much of wet Oʻahu:


Note the girth of trunks, and importantly, the size of planters.  And understand that underneath is moist Mānoa soil and expansive adjacent lawn.

At UHWO, nine monkeypods in a courtyard.  Not sure, but it sure seems that someone had fun with the green color in Photoshop.

Above, the courtyard under construction with monkeypods being planted. Note size of planters. And adjacent concrete.

Installed and growing.

The trees are still very young, and planters appear to be on the small side.  The tree on the left doesnʻt appear to be too happy.  And that plastic water bottle???

So.  Just because something looks good and works in one place, doesnʻt mean itʻs transferable to other places or climates.  Plants, water use, fishing practices, forest management...they should all be place-specific.  If we

noho i waho...a maliu       be outside...pay attention

Perhaps monkeypods back in the day were a good choice for Mānoa.  Maybe these days something else wouldʻve been more appropriate for ʻEwa.  

Wiliwili?  Yes...The gall wasp problem, but itʻd be great for student research and observations.  And I donʻt know if gall wasps are on Oʻahu. 
ʻUlu?  Great source of food for cafeteria service or for students to take home.  
Loulu hiwa?  They grow slowly, but...

Always something to "hmmmmm" about.

Best to go walking... Thanks for reading.

As always, with aloha,


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday, January 12, 2019. Then there were birds, and...

I know...so soon...But I wanted to add a bit to yesterdays plant post.  And muse about other things too.

The Walk this morning was a leisurely holosolo.  Partly cloudy skies that mostly cleared during the three hours I was out, revealed most of Maunakea and Maunaloa.  In the shade it was our coolish winter chill, but in the sun it was warm enough.  

The best thing were the birds.  Had the usual chorus of ʻapapane at the Devastation Trail parking lot, then along the road in the forest were a few ʻamakihi, and those loud Japanese bush warblers, and, in their usual location near where the forest gives way to cinder land, ʻōmaʻo called to each other there and here.  A few weeks ago, there was an ʻōmaʻo calling really loudly close to the road.  eb and I paused and listened, and listened more.  Then it flew across the road, giving me my first real sighting of an ʻōmaʻo.  Iʻd glimpsed them a few times, mostly obscured by understory growth, but never clearly.  They like to play hide and seek while they rummage around the subcanopy of forest.  And with one working arm, and various muscle issues, Iʻve never been a fan of bi- or monoculars.  Too much shakiness and wobbling.  I prefer things that donʻt move.  Plants.  Rocks.  Like that.

So onward I strolled, ʻōhiʻa walking stick tapping away.  Completed the "Touch the lock on the gate" protocol, just past Keanakākoʻi, then headed back.  Because the weather was excellent, I decided to sit on the stone wall, on "my" rock - the smooth one at just the right height, and look, see, observe, as I am wont to do.  I used to do the same thing sitting on the sand or a rock at Maniniʻōwali.  Watch the ocean, feel the sun and the breeze, check out ʻūlili scurrying along the shorefoam, and just think.  Or not.  Those were the times when I was usually the only one at the beach, or perhaps one of two, three, or four others.  Those days are long gone, but memories, of course, remain.

Back to topic, Bob...

Sitting on the wall.  Watching koaʻe kea glide along palifaces.  Scanning the scene back and forth.  Then down by the gate a nēnē crosses the road, climbs the bank, then wanders around the cinder foraging.  Heard koaʻe calling there, there, there...and then kinda close that clickchirp, repeated.  I turned to look at Keanakākoʻi and figured out pretty quickly that the clickchirp was an alarm call.  There was an ʻio, a Hawaiian hawk, gliding, circling inside the rim of the crater.  Then another.  Two ʻio, one koaʻe kea.  Keeping their distances.  Pretty cool.  

That little teeny black line on the cloud just to left of center is ʻio.

Below, one in Kohala yesterday, taken by cvz.  Looks...fake?  unreal??  Too good to be true?  Taken from a car.  Up close and personal.  Pretty awesome, far or near...

And how lucky are we???  Oddly (or not), while I was sitting on the wall paying attention, none of the other visitors in my field of view as far as I could tell, saw any of the birds.  I suppose it didnʻt occur to them to look.  They were chatting and having a fine time enjoying views of the craters.


Letʻs revisit UH West Oʻahu.  I was thinking this morning...I wonder how it got that name?  Kinda clinical, but I suppose descriptive of location?  How come not UH ʻEwa?  Or UH Kapolei (Kapo = a sister of Pele.  Lei = beloved), after the New City being built out there.  Kapolei, in case you wonder, is named after a puʻu.  Kapolei is in the ahupuaʻa of Honouliuli, moku (district) of ʻEwa.  This is an older map, so new subdivisions arenʻt depicted.  

A kou addenda:  Aside from being my favorite lei flower, the wood is one of the valuable three (kou, milo, and kamani) used for bowls, implements, etc. in the old days.  Kou is the rarest today.  Note that the old name for Honolulu is Kou.  In my experience, kou likes to be well-watered.  Trees without irrigation on the west side of the Island of Hawaiʻi are stressed, and their leaves are subject to predation by an introduced caterpillar.  Those trees look sadly ragged.

I make lei by picking up freshly fallen flowers off the ground in the morning.  They fall from the tree when mature.  If you try to pick them from the tree, itʻs a challenge.  Height aside, if the flower clusters are accessible, you have to pinch the calyx (the green part at the base of the flower) one by one, really hard, to release the flower.

Then, after the flowers, come the seed pods, shown below.  These are mature and ready to fall.  The green calyx (fused sepals, if you know botany) withers and eventually falls off, leaving a corky pod that floats.  Archeological evidence from a site on Kauaʻi tells us that kou has been in Hawaiʻi at least 5,000 years.  Yes, it was a Polynesian introduction, but itʻs a native plant too.


Native:  got here by itself, but found in other places.  Beach naupaka, pōhuehue (beach morning glory).

Endemic:  got here by itself, evolved, and is now/are now, different unique species found only in Hawaiʻi nei.  ʻŌhiʻa lehua, ʻapapane, hāpuʻu... 1,800+ plant species.

Polynesian introduction:  came on canoes with early settlers.  Kalo, ʻuala (sweet potato), ʻulu (breadfruit), etc.  Maybe 25 different species, total.

Alien:  anything that came here with Cook or after his arrival in 1778.  Pineapple, anthurium, macadamia nut, kiawe, etc...

Those pods above, maybe 3/4 inch in diameter, fall to the ground.  Because theyʻre corky, they donʻt disintegrate.  Then we have the pleasure, if weʻre not watchful, of skidding around on so many ball bearings, making them not a good choice for parking lots.

But their roots are not too invasive, and the trees grow really quickly, and they check both the Native and Polynesian Introduction boxes, so theyʻre commonly used in new plantscapes.  Until.  Until the groundskeepers catch on, and the pods are deemed a hazardous nuisance, and the trees are lollipopped:  pruned to look that way so pods fall onto the median planters.  Not attractive, labor intensive, and for lei makers, not productive.

Sad unintended consequences of trying to do the right thing.  Parking lot kou trees at UHWO were recently pruned way back to make the best use of limited funds.  The school apparently has an industrial street vacuum which readily sucks up the pods, thus alleviating the slip-fall hazard.  But at the Courthouse in Hilo...not pretty.

Back to my house.  

Remember the ʻopelu blooming in the yard?  All those spikes?  Well, the last errant flower opened early this week.  Most of the spikes are drying and seeds are being spread by wind, by birds landing and foraging, and by me, collecting them with the help of friends.  

A budding spike last August 7:

Full bloom:

The dry pods on January 9:

And, ta-DAH!!! The seeds.  LOTS of seeds.  Teeny tiny things!

Five months:  Bud to seed.

Nearing the end for today.  I wrote the following on Thursday, my mindseye diary of UHWO.

Tomorrow Iʻm hoping to write again, among other things, about "other denizens coolhidden under leaves".  Hmmmm.  What might they be???

Stay tuned.  Till then, as always, with aloha,