Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lava Tree State Park - A Jewel in the Heart of Puna

Lava Tree State Park - A Jewel in the Heart of Puna

Lava Tree
This Lava Tree State Park is 1.5 miles from Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast and it is a true jewel - vegetation, lava formations and the whole scenery. The park has been recently completely up-graded and re-done, including the walk ways, pavilion and little shelters, information displays and parking area. The State takes care of the maintenance and landscaping and is doing a very good job with it. The park is absolutely beautiful and visitors to this area should not miss it. Because it is at a strategic location from the B&B, travelers can easily tuck a visit to the park onto their day as they start in the morning on their way to other sites or when they come back to the B&B at the end of their day.
Tree Molds with Lau Hala Trees
The 0.7 mile trail takes you through a forest of lava tree molds of various shapes and sizes. Allow 30 minutes for a leisurely walk along the loop route. The path is paved, but there are slight inclines as the path follows the natural topography. The path may also be wet and slippery after periods of rain. If it starts to rain take cover in one of the two rest shelters along the way. It is recommended to stay on the path as vegetation hides cracks and uneven terrain.
Bird Nest Fern

Rattlesnake Ginger
Visitors are asked to protect and preserve these special volcanic features. Climbing and touching the molds will hasten their deterioration and collapse.

There are about 85 tree molds preserved in the park. You will be able to view about 40 of these molds along the path.

'Ohi'a Trees with Lehua Blossoms
Trail in the Park
Giant Elephant Ear Plants
A forest of mature 'ohi'a trees with red lehua blossoms has covered these lands of Puna for over 200 years. A variety of hapu'u, uluhe and sword ferns carpet the forest floor. 'Le'ie vines climb the 'ohi'a trunks, while bird nest ferns perch in the branches. The plants thrive in the rich, moist organic soil formed atop the earlier flows of pahoehoe lava.

What happened in this area is this: In the 1790 a fiery eruption of Kilauea sent red hot lava flowing down the slopes of the volcano. Crackling and thundering sounds of falling and burning trees followed in the wake of the lava flow. The tree molds recorded the maximum thickness of the lava as it passed the 'ohi'a trees.

Albizia Tree - High Canopy
Lava trees formed when fast flowing pahoehoe lava encountered wet 'ohi'a trees. The lava receded quickly after large chasms opened up caused by earth quakes. A stark black landscape remained. The ropy texture of the pahoehoe lava marked the exterior of the molds as the lava cooled and hardened against the tree trunks. In a matter of months, new life appeared with the growth of lichens and ferns in the moist cracks of the lava.

Today, there are many different varieties of gingers, heleconias, ti plants, taro and other tropical species. Albizia trees, an invasive species brought in from Africa by the lumber industry, create an incredible canopy high above the whole area.

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