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Monday, July 10, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Monday, July 10, 2023

This fire shut down Kama'oa Road for part of Monday. County and volunteer firefighters responded and worked into the night. Photo by Bob Martin

KAʻŪ FIREFIGHTERS WORKED INTO THE NIGHT Monday to put down the fire near Kama'oa Road, inland from Kamilo and Ka'alualu Bay. County firefighters from Nā'ālehu and Ocean View responded along with volunteer firefighters from Discovery 
Kamilo and Ka'alu'alu Bay in the background.
Photo by Bob Martin
Harbour and Nā'ālehu. County Civil Defense sent out a message at 2 p.m. saying "Fire personnel are on scene and activity fighting the fire. Fire and smoke may be visible." 
    Kama'oa Road was shut down for a period of time, with motorists using South Point Road and other alternate routes. No communities nor structures were reported threatened. Firefighters were mopping up Monday night.
    Civil Defense sent out a message saying Kama'oa Road has reopened. "Motorists in the area, please drive with caution as fire crews remain on scene working the fire."
    The area hit by the fires was described by local residents as full of guinea grass, haole koa and Christmas berry with a lot of fuel supported by rains over the winter that supported heavy growth in pastures and in wildlands.

KAʻŪ'S NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH IS ʻILIMA. The column by Jody Rosam with illustration by Joan Yoshika is called Lāʻau Letters: Native Plants of Kaʻū and explores Kaʻū’s native plants and their
moʻolelo (stories), uses, preferred habitats, and opportunities to adopt them for stewardship. The author and artist say, this column seeks to encourage making new plant friends and to reunite with others.
    Description: ʻIlima, ʻIlima, Sida fallax, is one of Hawaiʻi’s marvelous Malvaceae, and the only species in the Sida genus native to Hawaiʻi (although it is not endemic; it is found elsewhere in the world). ʻIlima leaves range from less than 1” long to over 5”, and can be light or dark green, or even silvery in color, and while they can be smooth, they are usually very soft and sweetly fuzzy.
    The delicate ʻilima flower is the official flower of the island of Oʻahu. They are referred to by different adjectives including kaukea (light yellow), melemele (strong yellow), ʻilima lei (deep gold), ʻilima ʻulaʻula (bronze red), and kolī kukui (rusty red). They bloom year round, and the flowers open fully by midday and only last about 24 hours.
    Once pollinated (often by the native nalo meli maoli or yellow-faced bee), they give way to small tan seeds which are readily dispersed by the wind. Early Hawaiians recognized and named many wild forms of ʻilima, including ʻilima kū kahakai a.k.a. ʻilima papa (a flat coastal form), ʻilima kū kula (a tall form), ʻilima kuahiwi (from the mountains), and ʻilima makanaʻā (a plant with smaller flowers, medium in height, and found on old lava flows in Kaʻū).
    Uses: Ola no i ka pua o ka ʻilima (there is healing in the ʻilima blossoms; ʻŌlelo Noʻeau #2489).
You guessed it! ʻIlima is a very useful plant. Medicinally, pua ʻilima (ʻilima flowers) were given to young babies as a pleasant-tasting and mild laxative, and also to help women during pregnancy. The root bark and flowers are helpful to those suffering from asthma, and when mixed with other plants, can be consumed as a tonic to revitalize energy. ʻIlima was used in house furnishings (and to some degree, construction), and even used as a layer in imu to prevent the food from being burned by the hot stones. ʻIlima was one of the few plants cultivated by Kānaka Maoli specifically for lei making. Pua ʻilima make a treasured lei poʻo (around the head) and lei ʻāʻī (around the neck) - but both require a lot of flowers to make! The flowers are edible and taste delicately sweet - I recommend sprinkling some on top of a fresh salad or even a cake as a native plant bonus to your meals.
    Habitat: ʻIlima grows across all of Hawaiʻi Nei, and can be found from sea level to over 6,000’
Five thousand in the mail, 2,500 on the street.
See the July edition of The Kaʻū Calendar Newspaper
 elevation. They can be found growing on rocky or sandy coastlines, lava fields, dry forests, and even in mesic forests, with different forms found in different environments. They are even a prominent part of the flora of Pihemanu (Midway) and Moku Manu (Nīhoa). Pollen records indicate that they were plentiful on Kamole a.k.a. Kauō (Laysan). In Kaʻū, you can find ʻilima along the coast and in the lowlands. Learn to recognize them, and you will quickly realize how plentiful they are in your neck of the woods.
    Growing and Purchasing: ʻIlima are often sold at local big box stores (and of course, you can contact the author for plants, too), so no excuses - go get yourself a couple! Just one plant will continue to provide lovely flowers and an abundance of seeds for you to propagate. Propagation is easy (and usually happens without any intervention): simply remove the seeds from the capsule and place them in a moist but well-drained media and sit tight! Germination is variable (so is viability), but with plenty of seeds to sow, ʻilima keiki should begin to germinate within a couple of weeks. Plant them in a sunny spot that won’t get too wet (they are susceptible to fungal diseases if overwatered). Prune them as needed (though not necessary), and enjoy the sweetness that ʻilima provides!

KAʻŪ ROPING & RIDING RODEO WRAPPED UP ON SUNDAY with many memories for paniolo and enthusiasts in an abundance of photos of competitors and attendees. See photos below and in upcoming
Kaʻū News Briefs.

Wahine Mugging with Lorilee Lorenzo and Denecia Derisin. Photo by Sophia Montoya 

Keiki Calf Riding. Photo by Joy Marie Ridgely

Keiki around the barrel. Photo by Joy Marie Ridgely