Consider re-vegetating burned areas in a way that makes sense for your environment while knowing that resources (time, money, long-term stewardship) may vary.

Native & Non-native Options

Re-planting is an important, long-term strategy for soil stabilization. Keep in mind, the site will likely be colonized by many short-lived weeds either present in the soil seed bank, or dispersed into the site afterwards.  These may be a benefit in the short-term, but may not be desirable.

Plant material availability is the biggest limiting factor for post-fire re-vegetation, especially for native plants.  For example, many post-fire plans recommend re-seeding with non-invasive grasses >>READ MORE.

The availability of native Hawaiian grasses such as pili (Heteropogon contortus) or kawelu (Eragrostis variabilis) are limited and would likely need to be collected yourself.  Another option is seedless, non-invasive vetiver grass which is highly effective at erosion control, but must be planted as ‘plugs’ >>READ MORE.

Kula August 8, 2023 fire

Limiting the Spread of Invasive Species

When re-planting, limit the spread of invasive pests. If you are growing plants, it is important to ensure your pots and soils are sanitized, as there is also high potential for transporting pests. Learn about preventing the spread of alien pests like Little Fire Ant, coqui frogs, Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles (CRB) >>READ MORE.

If you are planting new species, avoid fire-promoting ones and check to see if what you want to plant is on the Plant Pono website >>READ MORE.

Learn About Creating Defensible Space

Re-planting with Native Species Requires a Long-term Commitment

While native Hawaiian plants are always desirable, they require a great deal of care, such as water, fencing and weeding. Keep in mind that invasive grasses and herbs will out-compete native species. Even faster growing coastal Hawaiian shrubs such as a`ali`i (Dodonaea viscosa), naupaka (Scaevola taccada), and ground cover such as `uhaloa (Waltheria indica) require vigilant weeding.

It is important to understand that without fences, pigs and goats (deer on Maui and Lāna`i, sheep on Hawai`i Island and Lāna`i) may eat, root and disturb these plants, although some coastal plants like milo (Thespesia populnea), kamani (Calophyllum inophyllum) and naupaka may be less desirable to ungulates. Ecosystem preparation (soil nutrient considerations, soil stabilization, and preferably fencing) and a long-term commitment to weeding (manually or with herbicide) is required to make native species restoration a success.

What about direct seeding with native plant species?

Scattering limited amounts of native seeds only works in areas without invasive species, timed with adequate rainfall. Often times, burned areas have aggressive alien grasses, herbs and shrubs which will out-compete native seeds scattered by people. Most grasses will re-sprout from the roots, so they easily outcompete scattered seeds, only a small percentage of which will grow into plants. Many seeds will be eaten by both rats and birds. In addition, seeds scattered on steep slopes are likely to wash into gullies with the first rain. Native tree seeds which may be slower growing might not sprout right away. Until we have access to large quantities of seeds, the best use for limited quantities of native seeds is to grow them into individual plants and out-plant them with the intention of long-term protection, weeding and care >>READ MORE.

Where can I get plant material?

If you are in need of immediate materials, you can often find common coastal species such as milo, kamani, or non-native, non-invasives like monkey pod tree (which produces hundreds of seedlings).  In the wild, only a small fraction of plants in these ‘seedling banks’ will actually mature to adult trees.  These can be quickly and gently harvested, potted up, and transplanted.  Please use your discretion and ideally collect on private lands with landowner permission. You may be able to collect plant material (cuttings or seeds) from state Forest Reserves if you obtain a permit from the Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife >>READ MORE.

If you are in need of native species, calculate your need and consult with professionals. It is important to know that individual nurseries are often seed limited, so they don't usually like to sell seeds (they are trying to sell seedlings). When re-planting with natives, try to source them from your area or island. Many local nurseries (large and small) carry native plants for sale.

For larger projects (anything involving dozens to thousands of plants), commercial nurseries will grow to order. As seedlings or rooted cuttings do not have a long shelf life, nurseries do not keep large stocks of plants on hand. Native seedlings will take a couple of months up to two years to grow to plantable size. Many commercial nurseries have minimum orders, and most also require a deposit before they grow plants.

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