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Friday, September 08, 2023


by Deb Freedman

While the Lahaina banyan tree has yet to rebound back to its pre-fire splendor, signs of life are very much there, according to landscape contractor Chris Imonti. “We did root samples last week and we had very good news as far as new life in the roots. A lot of new roots shooting off. We tested the moisture and arborist Steve Nims, who is the unofficial leader of the Banyan Tree hui has analyzed all the treatments and he is out today putting sensors on the tree to measure growth rates. With the compost tea we are seeing good results and as long as we give it enough love, I think it’s going to be fine,” Imonti commented. Additional measures have been put into place by the hui (group) who are caring for Lahaina banyan tree and working towards its restoration. The ground and soil around the tree is being regularly aerated, and it is often being treated with a “tree-loving soup,” a mix of nutrients Imonti himself formulated for the recovering banyan. Additionally, volunteers are spreading chopped up alfalfa, a legume—a soil enhancing green manure—around the base of the tree to aid in its recovery. —Hawaii Magazine, September 6, 2023

In Tallahassee,
Hurricane Idalia hurled
a 100-year-old oak tree.

The tree’s fall
Governor DeSantis’ mansion
in his absence.
Notified of its collapse,
the governor was optimistic.
He told reporters,
if the entire tree needs to be cut,
“…that’s just going to be more room
for my kids to hit baseballs in.”

In Lahaina, Maui,
a 150-year-old banyan tree,
the heart of the town,
devoured by
fast-spreading wildfires
spurred by human error
living tissue at its core.

in grief,
some homeless,
some looking for lost loves,
nourish the banyan tree
with water
and organic compost
in a town burnt
but not of love nor hope.

Steve Nims, arborist tree tender,
says it is “kind of in a coma…
There are good signs the tree will recover…
It’s up to the tree.”

Deb Freedman is a poet living in Pennsylvania. Her poems have been published in The New Verse News and DVP/US 1’s Worksheets 67. She hopes the oak and banyan trees survive and thrive.