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Saving the ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua: Our Commitment to Conservation

Hawai’i is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. From the lush rainforests to the alluring sandy beaches, nature abounds here. The islands are rich in natural flora and wildlife, both of which contribute to a peaceful, tranquil way of life.

Nature is integral to the infrastructure of what makes Hawai’i such a special place. We are blessed with an abundance of Earth’s natural resources, some of which are unique to the Hawaiian islands. One such native plant is the ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua tree. With their bursting red blooms and special ability to grow on new volcanic lava flows, ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua trees are treasured gems. Not only do they offer true beauty, but they are also vital components of Hawai’i’s ecosystems. Sadly, Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD) threatens their existence. This environmental issue in Hawai’i has instigated conservation efforts all around the world from various parties including Malie. Read on to learn how you can support initiatives to save ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua trees while getting your favorite beauty products.

Learning About the ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua

Despite its rarity around the world, the ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua tree is one of the most popular trees in Hawai’i. ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua is endemic to Hawai’i and is the most common native Hawaiian tree you’ll find. In fact, ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua comprises 80% of Hawai’i's native forests.[1]

Slow growing, this tree stands between 66 and 82 feet tall upon full maturation. Its tall stature and its ability to grow in new lava flows are not the only things that set this tree apart from other popular trees in Hawai’i. The wood is often used to make kapa beaters, poi boards, and native weapons; the leaves were traditionally used to make medicinal tea; ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua’s flowers can be seen in lei and hulas. The ways in which this tree’s natural resources contribute to the Hawaiian economy are endless!

Still, the beauty of what ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua offers doesn’t stop there. In addition to the several roles this tree plays in Hawaiian culture, it is also a critical component of Hawai’i’s rainforests. ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua is vital for watershed protection and water conservation. Its ability to retain water after storms helps prevent erosion and flooding. This makes the ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua tree a pillar of Hawai’i and a native plant that must be protected.

Environmental Issues in Hawai’i

Unfortunately, Hawai’i is no stranger to environmental issues. Tourism, urbanization, climate change, pollution, and several other factors have negatively contributed to a host of environmental challenges in Hawai’i. From damaged coral reefs to sea levels rising to the most recent Hawaiian wildfires of 2023, the islands have faced serious adversity. One issue Hawai’i is currently facing is Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD). This ongoing attack on ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua trees is the result of the Ceratocystis fimbriatefungus permeating and killing the trees.

Hawai’i is a special, sacred place, unlike anywhere else in the world. The devastation of these catastrophic events is serious and calls for support from conservationists around the world.

A Sacred Tree Under Siege

In 2014, researchers and conservationists discovered a fast-acting fungus called Ceratocystis fimbriate. This fungus causes Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD) by quickly attacking and killing ‘Ōhi‘a trees. Since its discovery, ROD has been responsible for killing thousands of ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua trees on Hawai’i, with the potential for it to do even more damage if not contained. Highly virulent, this is a serious threat to the Hawaiian ecosystem. Organizations and nature conservancies all across Hawai’i are committed to stopping the spread and limiting the damage. The good news is that no matter where you live, you can also help.

Nature Conservancy of Hawai’i

There are numerous ways to get involved and help stop the spread of  Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD). The Nature Conservancy of Hawai’i is just one of the many organizations dedicated to conserving Hawai’i’s native watershed and forest habitats. Other organizations include the Limahuli National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), and the Kaua'i Invasive Species Committee (KISC). Donating to these organizations or contributing to the cause in any way you are able furthers research, intervention, and remediation efforts.

Malie’s Contribution to the Cause

Saving the ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua: Our Commitment to Conservation

As a brand born out of a love for Hawai’i, Malie is fiercely committed to protecting our islands. We have always been involved in scientific research and environmental integrity, as we believe these are integral to delivering high quality, effective, and meaningful beauty products. Our annual ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua Holiday Collectionechoes these values by directly supporting ‘Ōhi‘a conservation efforts. Each year, 10% of the proceeds of this specially curated collection are donated to organizations that help preserve ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua trees. This year the proceeds will be donated to the Limahuli National Tropical Botanical Garden(NTBG) and the Kaua'i Invasive Species Committee (KISC).

How You Can Help

If you’re looking for a meaningful and tangible way to provide aid and support to this initiative, there are several ways you can help.

  • Know the signs.

    Information is power. If you suspect the presence of ROD on ‘Ōhi‘a  Lehua trees, it is imperative that you report it to the State of Hawai’i Department of Agriculture immediately. Signs to look out for include dark staining in the sapwood along the outer margins of trunks and mature ‘Ōhi‘a trees’ crowns turning a yellowish-brown color.

  • Plant an ‘Ōhi‘a tree.

    Help replenish ‘Ōhi‘a trees by planting them in the ground or a pot.

  • Stay Clean!

    Practice proper hygiene when out and about in wildlife, especially when you are around ‘Ōhi‘a trees. Clean your gear and brush your feet at the trailhead brushing station before and after hiking around these native trees. Brushing and spraying alcohol ensures you don’t bring anything (specifically the ROD fungus) in or out

  • Avoid foraging in the mountains.

Shop Mālie’s ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua Holiday Collection.

When you shop from Malie’s ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua Holiday collection, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Limahuli National Tropical Botanical Garden and Preserve and the KISC. The is home to dozens of endangered birds and plants, including the ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua tree and the KISC monitors high-risk sites island-wide to proactively prevent pest infestation. Products in this collection include:

  • Koke’e Body Cream

    This organic body cream nourishes the skin with a moisturizing blend of botanicals. The antioxidant-rich formula includes coconut and kukui nut oils infused with awapuhi, aloe, and chamomile to soothe, protect, and hydrate. The 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastic bottles in which this body cream is housed comes from recycled material and can be re-recycled back into the Earth.

  • Malie
  • Malie
  • Koke’e Body Wash

    Rinse away the day with Malie’s Organic Koke’e Body Wash. Infused with Hawaiian Hydrosols and therapeutic botanicals, this hydrating body wash leaves skin silky smooth, cleansed, and refreshed. It is great for all skin types and can be used on a daily basis. Best of all, our body wash is housed in a 100% PCR bottle, making it a sustainable and responsible choice for yourself and the planet.

  • Koke’e Body Gloss

    Malie’s Koke’e Body Gloss delivers the luster of a lip gloss to your body. The first of its kind, our body gloss blends organic botanical butters with extra virgin coconut oil. The non-greasy formula not only feels amazing, but it also offers several skin benefits. Organic mango and aloe butters (rich in Vitamin A, C, and beta carotene) help prevent degeneration of skin cells while restoring skin flexibility. Organic macadamia nut butter (rich in Omega 3 & 6) helps with sunburn, windburn, and scar recovery.

  • Malie
  • Malie
  • Koke’e Hand Soap

    Your hands deserve some love, and the Koke’e Hand Soap is here to provide. Awapuhi extract naturally cleanses while organic aloe moisturizes and nourishes the skin. Hawaiian Hydrosols hydrate and add therapeutic benefits for an added touch of luxury. This hand soap comes in a 100% PCR bottle for enhanced environmental friendliness.

  • Koke’e Beauty Oil

    Keep your hair and body beautiful with this light body oil. Great for all skin and hair types, the Koke’e Beauty Oil contains vital ingredients such as Organic Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, and Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Put it on your hair to tame frizz and enhance silkiness or use it on your skin for a hydration boost!

  • Malie
  • Malie
  • Koke’e Island Ambiance Mist

    Bottling up a heavenly scent has never been so beautiful! The Koke’e Island Ambiance Mist is housed in a gorgeous, golden glass bottle, giving you beauty at first glance. Give it a spray and you’ll instantly see why this mist is a Malie favorite. Made with aloha using wild-crafted Hawaiian Hydrosols, this room mist can be sprayed on linens, laundry, or used as a perfume.

  • Koke’e Island Ambiance Reed Diffusers

    Get the scent of a candle without the burn. Zero maintenance is required for our reed diffusers. This lets you transform your space into a tropical island paradise easily! Hawaiian aromatherapy is made simple with our Koke’e Island Ambiance Reed Diffusers. Long-lasting and high-quality, this scent brings out the best of a clean, aromatic fragrance and transports it directly to your home.

  • Malie

 

In an effort to protect the native plants and trees in Hawai’i’, 10% of all proceeds from our ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua Holiday Collectionwill be donated to the Limahuli NTBG and KISC.The best way you can help is by shopping with us! Get involved when you shop for clean, safe, and effective beauty products from Malie today!

[1] https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/plants/ohia-lehua/#:~:text='%C5%8Chi'a%20lehua%20is%20endemic,dominant%20tree%20above%201%2C300%20ft.

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