An interesting thing about Hawaii, is that you always hear people complaining about invasive species (both flora and fauna). Essentially the whole premise of this business is to find constructive uses for plants the state already has the desire to control the growth of.
It seems it was meant to be that the very first species on the State of Hawaii’s “Most Invasive Horticultural Plants” was Acacia Confusa.
The state’s official position on this (and all other plants on the same list) is that it should not be grown anywhere in the state of Hawaii as it is considered as having the potential to spread exponentially.
It turns out that the reasons for this plant to be an issue here is more deeply rooted. Brought to Hawaii in 1916, Acacia Confusa is so-called because it is often “confused” with Acacia Koa, with whom it is closely related. Acacia Koa (or just Koa” ) is a tree native to hawaii that has become scarce due to over harvesting of it’s precious hard wood (it is also essentially considered sacred in Hawaii).
Acacia Confusa was brought here by the sugarcane planters to help prevent erosion in cane fields. It was thought that due to the similarities between Confusa and Koa, things would work out well.
It turns out that the two are too closely related. In the last sixty years a disease known as the “Koa wilt” has swept the islands and tends to kill all baby koa trees. In a manner analogous to smallpox being brought to the Americas, it turns out that confusa is the resistant and thus largely unaffected carrier of this “koa wilt”.
While the state lacks the funding to effectively combat plants like this, where they do actually fight them, they sadly tend to do so herbicidally.
This is where we come in. We approach Organic Farms, Organic beef ranches, and even Organic fish ponds and offer the services of controlling the population of Acacia Confusa. We don’t ever remove all of the trees, but rather tend to thin them out. Property owners usually want to maintain some of the trees, but these plants tend to form dense monotypic stands where there is no undergrowth. In general, we come in and remove one to two thirds of the existing trees. We choose only to remove the largest and oldest trees as the remaining younger ones will drop less seeds. This leaves the remaining trees in a much more healthy environment and yields more healthy property in total.
Currently, we are working on a two hundred+ acre property on the mountain side. The upper portion of the property is a series of three terraced organic tilapia ponds. The runoff from this has been flowing through the rest of the property for some thirty years. This area, having grown feraly for some seventy years, has become as wildly overgrown with large and beautiful confusa plants as we have seen.
All plants are harvested by hand and then transported to the dry part of the island. Here we have constructed a series of covered drying racks that make use of the constant breeze and indirectly of the strong Hawaiian sun to dry out all of the root bark harvested. The drying racks are one of our favorite places on the island, from here we can gaze down upon the ruins of an old Hawaiian village (long since abandoned) and watch and listen to humpback whales jumping during the winter months.
We also make use of the drying area to pre-process or shred the root bark. In originally endeavoring to figure out how to powder the root bark, we sought out the advice of local Kava farmers. Since they also powder a root, we figured that their process wouldn’t differ from ours. We consequently learnt that a hammer mill is the best way to powder roots as it doesn’t overheat them and ruin their various potentials.
All in all, we are happy to have found a use for something the state would have us spray poisons on that in actuallity embody infinite potential.
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