The Big Island of Hawaii is considered to be a paradise. With the palm trees swaying in the wind, the fresh pineapple, and the delicious macadamia nuts. However, none of these things are actually Hawaiian. Even the forest is beginning to become mostly made of foreign plants including the Miconia. The Miconia is a beautiful plant with large leaves that have purple undersides. It is this beautiful plant that threatens to create devastating landslides that could potentially kill the coral reefs. This plant started its invasion in the mid 1800′s when a European man saw the tree and found it breathtaking. He shipped the plant back to his home in Europe. In 1961, Hawaii accepted a specimen of this tree for a greenhouse. Before long, the beauty of the Miconia captured an audience and was eventually sold in nurseries. From there, it didn’t take long for the tree to spread all over the island. It had the help of the Japanese White Eye bird, who ate the small fruit and spread the hundreds of seeds over a vast area of land. Today, the Miconia inhabits 10,000 acres of land and is casting shadows over the native plants. The native plants are dying and leaving only the short sparse roots of the Miconia to hold the soil together. With heavy rains, there is a very strong possibility that there will be lanslides in areas where the Miconia is dominant.
There are many groups of people who want to be rid of the Miconia on the Big Island. They want to see the native plants of Hawaii to flourish once again and to save the land from disappearing into the sea. To get rid of the invader, the Hawaii conservationists are using GPS signal to pinpoint where the growth of Miconia is plentiful. They also use technology that allows them to see how light reflects off of the Miconia leaves. The people then take pictures of the forest canopy from helicopters with special cameras that detects the amount of light being reflected back. To figure out where the Miconia is, they find where there are patches of a specific light reflectivity that are consistent with samples of leaves from the intruder. After they obtain this information, the people go out to get rid as many Miconia as possible. They all do this in hopes that one day, Miconia will disappear from Hawaii, leaving the native plants to create their own natural paradise.
Removing a specific plant would be a challenging task because you don’t want to destroy any other plants around it. Using people to pull out the Miconia seems to be the only way. However, maybe like the water hyacinth, there is a biological way that could aid in the process.