HILO, Hawaii — Big Island volunteers are working to control an invasive tree known as the albizia.
The tree is rapidly spreading throughout Puna and other parts of Hawaii Island, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1fkYteT ).
About 20 people gathered at the Keauohana Forest Reserve on Tuesday to learn how they can safely and easily prevent the trees from moving into their neighborhoods.
Albizia trees can grow quickly — about 15 feet per year — but they are brittle and have a weak root system. This gives them a tendency to snap and drop large branches after even minor storms, which can threaten lives and property.
Albizia may also grow extremely tall. In lowland forests, albizia are blocking out the sun above smaller native trees like ohia, starving them.
The Big Island Invasive Species Committee organized the event in response to a desire by residents of the nearby Black Sands subdivision to try to control the trees before their homes are endangered.
Participants were taught the "hack and squirt" method of taking down a tree. They learned to cut angled notches every 6 inches around the circumference of the trees and then squirt a small amount of herbicide into the cut.
Within two weeks, the tree will drop all of its leaves and appear dead. After about two years, it will have dried out to the point where it will be much lighter and crumble away, posing much less of a risk than a heavy tree that might snap and fall.
Residents may use this method on albizia trees that may safely fall down without causing any damage, but hazardous trees will need to be removed by a certified arborist, said Springer Kaye, committee manager.
Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/