‘Symbol of hope’: Lahaina’s beloved banyan tree shows new growth after fires

The tree was “just about the only thing left” standing

Lāhainā’s Banyan tree represents the deep roots of this community. Even in the face of unspeakable heartache, its limbs reach outward and upward,” she wrote on social media. “Honored to bear witness as the people of Maui rebuild, recover, and reach outward and upward themselves.”

A colossal, beloved 150-year-old banyan tree at the centre of Lahaina town that was scorched when deadly wildfires ravaged Maui, Hawaii, last month is showing viridescent signs of new growth.

The tree, which has been described as the “heartbeat of Lahaina Town” was badly singed, but still standing last month after fires killed at least 97 people and reduced much of the historic town to ash.

Since then, arborists have volunteered their time and expertise to save the tree, according to Hawaii’s department of land and natural resources (DLNR) – and have suggested that new leaves sprouting from the tree’s singed branches are a positive sign of recovery.

According to the New York Times,

The tree, a Ficus benghalensis, or banyan fig, was just eight feet tall when it was planted in 1873 to commemorate a Protestant mission to Lahaina a half-century earlier. Years of careful tending by residents helped the tree grow, according to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, a nonprofit preservation organization that describes the tree as the largest of its kind in the United States. Towering more than 60 feet near an old courthouse, the banyan tree has become a cherished landmark for locals.

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, some arborists and foresters feared the worst for the tree. Its trunk appeared badly charred, and its canopy — which had grown to cover more than half an acre — was burned, its leaves browned to a crisp..

The Guardian

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