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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 20, 2003

Majestic Kailua trees get manicure

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

KAILUA — A shaggy old Chinese banyan near the entrance to Castle Medical Center received a badly needed pruning Wednesday, one of five landmark trees in this town that the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle has agreed to trim to assure longevity.

Rodolfo Arciaga of Trees of Hawaii spreads chips around the base of a Chinese banyan near Castle Medical Center. The Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle is paying for the work.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

"They are really significant in the landscape of Kailua," said Carol Ann Ellett of the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle.

Replacing a similar tree would cost $40,000, according to Abner Undan, president of Trees of Hawaii, which is doing the work at a reduced rate for the nonprofit group.

The Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle's Tree Preservation Fund is paying for the project. The fund was started in 2001 with a donation from the late Muriel Flanders, who was a Lanikai resident at one time and was a supporter of the Outdoor Circle. The group also contributed to the preservation fund with proceeds it earned at the annual I Love Kailua party that raises money for beautification projects in Kailua.

The 50- to 60-year-old tree near Castle Medical Center is in the median on Ulukahiki Street, at the intersection of Kailua Road and Kalania-na'ole Highway. Before pruning, the branches and trunk, about 65 feet high, resembled a bearded man with tiny sprouts hanging from him.

The tree also will get a dose of fertilizer and insecticide, said Ellett.

"Like all Chinese banyans islandwide, they are infested with a bug called thrips, and the banyan wasp," said Ellett. "The thrips cause the leaves to fold up so (they) can't photosynthesize, and the wasps create big tumors on the leaves."

Ellett said the organization paid $7,700 to have five trees pruned, including banyans at Lanikai Elementary School and one in the marsh at the entrance to the town across the street from Windward Boats.

Plans must be approved by the city to prune a banyan at the intersection of South Kalaheo Avenue and Kailua Road in front of Kalapawai Market, and to trim three hau trees growing together in Kailua Beach Park behind the store.

The banyan near Castle Medical Center looked like it hadn't been trimmed in a long time, if ever, Undan said. He said he found stubs, dead wood, cross branching and poorly developed branches.

The fertilizer and insecticide will help it recover from the shock of being trimmed, Undan said. Castle Medical Center will water the tree, allowing the treatment to spread throughout the branches.

But the treatment won't rid the tree of the pests, which can be seen as helpful, he said.

"There is a plus to it because these insects control the prolific growth of these trees," Undan said, adding that the tree would be twice as big as it is now without the infestation.

Undan has worked in partnership with the Lani-Kailua group to trim other significant trees in Kailua, including four monkeypod trees at the Women's Community Correctional Center. Those trees were nominated to be exceptional trees of Hawai'i.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com or 234-5266.