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Baby ʻŌhiʻa Trees On The 2018 Lava Flows

9:38 PM · Mar 6, 2020

Keiki ʻŌhiʻa trees are beginning to naturally establish themselves on the lava flows from the 2018 eruption. In the Kalapana days, we've seen ferns growing back within steamy tree molds as soon as 3 months after a lava flow, footage we have shows clusters of fern growth around the eruptive fissures in January 2019. A year and a half after the flows stopped, baby ʻōhiʻa have been located, and there are likely more around the flow fields. The typical time for colonization of lava flows by plants depends mostly on the area's rainfall, rather than the age of the flow. For example, flows from the 1790 eruption near Lava Tree State Park have been completely covered in vegetation since the eruption. Meanwhile, the 1801 flow from Hualālai that the Kona International Airport is built upon remain largely barren. Leilani Estates, where these keiki are located, receives a large amount of rain annually - as anyone who lives here can attest to. While it’s not a surprise to see life return to the 2018 eruption site, witnessing the process first hand so rapidly is something special. Mahalo to Kris Burmeister for sharing what he has found on his land. With Philip Ong