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Sunday, March 17, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs March 17, 2024

A native fern called ‘Ama‘u is plant of the month. Illustration by Joan Yoshioka

LĀ‘AU LETTERS, NATIVE PLANTS OF KAʻŪ:  ‘Ama‘u (Sadleria Cyatheoides) is plant of the month for March. Author Jodie Rosam and illustrator Joan Yoshioka seek to encourage making new plant friends and to reunite with others:
    Huli ka lau o ka ʻamaʻu i uka, nui ka wai o kahawai. When the leaves of the ʻamaʻu turn toward the upland, it is a sign of a flood. ʻŌlelo Noʻeau #1137 (Mary Kawena Pukui).
    Description: ʻAmaʻu is an endemic fern in the Blechnaceae or chain fern family. There are actually six species in this endemic genus, divided into two groups: the Cyatheoides group (medium to large and even tree ferns found on recent lava flows and in forests), and the Squarrosa group (small ferns found on dark and wet river banks). ʻAmaʻu are easy to distinguish from their fern friend hapuʻu with just a little bit of practice. The new fronds emerge in brilliant shades of bright red and orange, turning gold and then green with maturity. ʻAmaʻu fronds are also less divided than hapuʻu (in other words, ʻamaʻu fronds are more simple). Another name for ʻamaʻu is maʻumaʻu. That name should sound familiar…you surely have heard of Halemaʻumaʻu, which is surrounded by beautiful, healthy ʻamaʻu ferns.
‘Ama‘u, the native fern, is steeped in the history of Hawai‘i.
Photo from state Department of Land & Natural Resources

    Uses: ʻAmaʻu have many uses. For agriculture, fronds were used as a mulch for dry-land kalo gardens and as a planting layer in dry areas (much like putting straw down in your home garden to cut back on evaporation).          
    The fronds make a red dye for kapa and the leaf stems can be used for kapa beating or sizing. Fronds were used for thatching with or in addition to lau hala and pili. The starchy centers were occasionally eaten or even used for animal feed, and when dried and ground, ʻamaʻu can be made into a drink similar to coffee or tea. ʻAmaʻu can also be used medicinally in lāʻau lapaʻau. ʻAmaʻu is also a kinolau (form) that Kamapuaʻa (the son of Hina and Kahikiula) transformed into as he attempted to flee from the fire of Pele at Kīlauea. Yet another name for ʻamaʻu is puaʻa ʻehuʻehu (which translates into red pig), referring to the relationship between ʻamaʻu and Kamapuaʻa.
    Habitat: ʻAmaʻu can be found in low (around 150’) to mid-elevations (around 5,000’) in dry, mesic, and wet environments on all of the main Hawaiian Islands except Niʻihau and Kahoʻolawe. ʻAmaʻu is among one of the first plants to colonize new lava flows, essentially building ecosystems and creating microhabitat sites for other species (along with its friends, ʻōhiʻa and kupukupu). 
    In Kaʻū, you can see ʻamaʻu colonizing new lava flows and interspersed among other early successional species throughout the district. Growing and Purchasing: Unfortunately, ʻamaʻu is not seen as a common landscaping plant, despite its hardiness and beauty. On top of that, it is uncommon to see it for sale at big box stores and some local nurseries. But if you really want ʻamaʻu in your space, please ask me for ideas! ʻAmaʻu can handle extreme environments, but are a bit happier with a little protection from the midday sun. One non-negotiable for ʻamaʻu is that it requires well-drained soils, so find an area you can amend with plenty of cinder so it does not hold water. Your ʻamaʻu will require a bit of supplemental watering to get it started, but once it is happy, you will find that it doesn’t need much from you, other than love, admiration, and kindness.

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Menehune by Dietrich Varez, the print
available through Volcano Art Center.
ST. PATRICK'S DAY BRINGS UP STORIES OF THE IRISH COMING TO HAWAI‘I. The Irish arrived in Hawai‘i as early as 1794 and represent about 4.3 percent of the current population. The first two governors following statehood were Irish-Americans William F. Quinn (1959-62) and John A. Burns (1962-74). Maurice J. Sullivan, who founded Foodland, the state’s first big supermarket, came from Clare and grew his business into 100 retail stores in Hawai‘i. A former Honolulu police chief, Lee D. Donohue, was Irish-Korean. Another Irish name well known in Hawai‘i comes from McCandless Ranch. Actor Jason Mamoa is Hawaiian-Irish.
   In common between Hawai‘i and Ireland is not only being an island but also being the home of the little people, the legendary menehune in Hawai‘i and the leprechauns in Ireland. A description of the Menehune giclée by Dietrich Varez at Volcano Art Center says, "Menehune is the name given to the mysterious little people of Hawaiian legend and folklore. Like leprechauns, they are seldom seen and do most of their miraculous work in the dark of night."

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. See 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.

AN ALZHEIMER'S & OTHER DEMENTIA WORKSHOP is this Monday, March 18 at 2:30 p.m. at Discovery Harbour Community Center. "Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia can be one of life's greatest challenges. Early stages are often not recognized properly," says a statement from the sponsors of the free workshop.
    Leader of the event is Elena de Ru, an international speaker on this subject. She is based out of Brussels in Belgium and studied at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands where she received her Master's degree in Social Studies and a unique and prestigious award for social skills.
    She has taught in several countries around the world including the Kyiv Christian University in Ukraine and currently does workshops for the largest health insurance company in Belgium. In addition to being an expert guest speaker, she is a caregiver coach.
Elena de Ru (right) with her late husband, whom she 
cared for at home for 15 years with his dementia, will give a 
workshop on Monday at Discovery Harbour.
    De Ru developed much of her understanding of the subject of caregiving to dementia patients firsthand.        
    She and her husband learned to live well with his dementia, at home, for almost 15 years. Key to that successful approach was found through acceptance, music and humor.
    The statement says that "Knowing when to bring in professional help is difficult, as is finding the strength and means to postpone admitting a person living with Alzheimer's to a full-time facility. Working through the issues surrounding this challenging condition is Elena's specialty. Elena's workshop will define dementia in general, offer ideas and suggestions for improving interaction and communication with the patient. It is possible to cherish and even enjoy your time with someone who is in decline but finding comfort as a caregiver and creating community are vital to surviving and thriving through this trial.
    De Ru wrote a book with Elane Cross, titled, Courage for the Caregiver, Ministering to Those with Alzheimer's and Other Dementia. Copies will be made available this Monday during the class.
    This workshop is sponsored by Purpose Ministries, which made the following statement, "Although not a typical aspect of our non-profit organization, the opportunity for an event on dementia and Alzheimer's became available which we wholeheartedly wanted to support. You can find us online at www.purposehi.com."

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. See 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.