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Albizia: The Tree That Ate Puna PDF Print E-mail

Albizia is a fast growing tree that is invasive (weedy) in native ohia forests in Hawaii, especially in Puna on the Big Island. as well as on land disturbed by human activities. Albizia causes ohia to die off, and makes the environment more favorable for other invasive species (clidemia, guava, and possibly miconia and the coqui frog).

One of the fastest growing of all tree species, in other countries where it occurs naturally such as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, it is used for pulp and other wood products, fuelwood, ornamental plantings and shade for coffee, tea and cattle. Unfortunately it has gotten out of control on the Big Island of Hawaii, especially in the Puna district.

Falcataria moluccana or albizia has become a major problem tree in Hawai'i. It can invade and shade out intact native ohia forests. It is considered a WEED PEST in Hawai'i.

Don't be deceived by albizia's beautiful appearance; because of their brittle wood and weak structure, large albizia trees pose a hazard to nearby infrastructure. Strong winds can cause large limbs to drop onto whatever may be underneath, potentially causing costly damage to homes and power lines. Cars and houses have been flattened, and people severely injured and nearly killed by these forest monsters.

Albizia grows at a rapid rate, Trees can reach heights of more than 20 feet in their first year, 45 feet in their third year, and 60 feet by the end of their tenth year. The crown of an albizia tree is broad, capable of shading over half an acre.

Albizia has an effect on Hawaii real estate property values as well; land with albizia (especially large trees) typically is valued less than lots without, due to the cost of removal. The best advice is to get rid of them, and monitor to catch the "keikis" when they sprout; early removal is quite simple..

Distribution of albizia on the island of Hawaii (above). The trees are most readily identified as those forming the "tree tunnel" near Lava Tree State Park (below).

What you can do:

- Leave the natural vegetation untouchedĀ—don't bulldozeĀ—until you are ready to utilize the land. Albizia grows rapidly in bulldozed areas

- Eliminate albizia seedlings and small trees before they become a problem. "Girdling" works great, and the trees will just fall over when they die --- but make sure they're small, and that no one is around to get hurt. Safety first!

- Deal responsibly with "hazard trees"; Trees that are posing a hazard to infrastructure should be removed professionally --- don't try this yourself!

Methods of control:

For medium-sized to large trees, and any trees near infrastructure, contact an arborist for free consultation to determine the safest and most effective course of action to remove the tree. An arborist will help you determine when professional removal is necessary.

Fell saplings and young trees and apply herbicide to cut stumps immediately. Triclopyramine is effective at concentrations of 7-10%. Before applying any pesticide, applicators must determine that the product under consideration is correct for the intended use site according to the label on the container or package.

For more information, read "Woody Plant Control for the Home, Pasture and Forest," by Philip Motooka and others, a University of Hawaii publication, or contact the Komohana Agricultural Complex at 875 Komohana Street, Hilo, HI 96720, Phone (808) 981-5199.


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