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Vandals damage endangered Hawaiian plants

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    Waimano, HI (KITV) — State botanist Susan Ching spent her Sunday sweeping up soil after vandals broke into a Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) greenhouse in Waimano and upturned endangered native plants.

A young batch of ‘Opuhe was among those damaged. According to Ching, the offspring were grown from a wild plant only found in the uplands of Wai’anae, the “only one left in the world.”

The greenhouse also houses a rare collection of Ma’oli’oli, which are found on the slopes of Le’ahi, or Diamond Head.

According to Ching, there are only seven known Ma’oli’oli left in the wild.

The offspring at the greenhouse were snapped and thrown on the ground.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking,” Ching added. “Them being so rare, they’re cultural and ecological treasures.”

Ching said she and her team spent grueling hours collecting seeds to propagate these plants.

“Hiking out to these plants, several hours, steep terrain, whatever weather conditions there are,” Ching recalled. She estimates it’ll take four to five months for her team to recover from the damage.

But the setback hasn’t discouraged her–she just hopes that it doesn’t happen again.

“They’re not only for us, but they’re also for all of Hawai’i. They’re our legacy. We’re growing them for O’ahu forests, and so it’s up to all of us to care,” Ching said.

An investigation has been opened–if you have any information, call the DLNR’s 24-hour tip line at (808) 634-3567.

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