To most folks, wiliwili trees don’t look like much. Most of the year, they look half dead with a sprinkling of leaves scattered atop an otherwise empty crown. Thankfully, the good folks at the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative understand that Hawaii’s native wiliwili trees, Erythrina sandwicensis, along with other key trees, shrubs and plants that make up our disappearing lowland dry forests are truly worth getting excited about. Last Saturday marked the 2nd in our series of community trips, Bloomin’ WiliWili, to see the regal wiliwili trees in all of their glory.
We had a great day with volunteers from the WDFI, learning about the reserve they manage and the work they are doing to restore the critically threatened lowland dry forest. We started the day with a visit to tour the on-site nursery where they nurture and care for the keiki of the various species they are doing outplantings of.
From there, we took a quick hike across a pahoehoe flow to visit an impressive lava tube on site. As we were completing our expedition of the cave (ok, we guess it was more of a stroll) a curious barn owl buzzed us. Apparently we had disturbed his mid-morning nap and he was intent on letting us know who’s cave that really was.
As we made our way back to the main site for lunch, a nice bank of clouds rolled in to cool things down for the main event . . . plantings! A huge part of WFDI’s work is active outplantings of key species. We spent the rest of the day planting two flats of wiliwili saplings and one flat of aalii.
At the end of our work, everyone joined in a nice oli and enjoyed a refreshing, light rain. What a great way to end the day in a very special place. Big thanks to our partners at the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative. Don’t forget to check out their upcoming Wiliwili Festival on September 14th in Waikoloa Village.