Ohia wilt now killing trees in western areas of Big Island - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Ohia wilt now killing trees in western areas of Big Island

File image of the ohia tree with fungus File image of the ohia tree with fungus

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - Officials say a tree-killing fungus that covered more than 16,000 acres on the eastern part of the Big Island has now been discovered in the western areas of Holualoa and Kealakekua.

West Hawaii Today reports Hilo-based extension forester, James Friday, says recent testing confirms rapid ohia death has infected western trees, but researchers aren't sure how this particular strain spread or where it originated.

Ohia wilt quickly takes over the tree's water transport system and kills 50 percent of those it infects.

The affected area in Puna and mauka slopes above Hilo grew to 16,000 acres in 2014, up from less than 3,000 acres in 2012.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture imposed an emergency ban on shipment of ohia logs in August in an effort to contain the disease.

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