Confidence in a Better Future (Feat. Efren Reyes)

I mentioned in one of my recent posts about gaining confidence in my reforestation work from basketball of all things. Well, here is another fine example of that confidence in a better future from the legendary Efren Reyes.

It’s a short clip 30 sec. featuring 2 pool shots. Seems simple, how does this video relate to my visions for a brighter environmental future? Watch Efren’s eyes light up as he sinks the first shot. He sees the opportunity, the possibility. He sees the future outcome even before the cue ball stops rolling.

And what outcome is that? Pause the video after he calls the last shot: can you tell what he is going to do? I’ll be honest, I couldn’t even tell how he was going to sink the shot until almost the very last instance and then suddenly it’s right where he said it would be.

Granted, in this case, the future that Efren sees is sinking the last ball in a surprising, crowd pleasing way. But through a lifetime of work and experience, he knows he can make that future a reality.

I see a path, a shot, to healthier native forests. I think it would surprise the general public. But seeing the shot and executing it are 2 different things. Efren has the skill; in many circles he is considered the world’s greatest pool player. While it remains to be seen if I can actually bring about this better future for native forests (well at least the tiny patch I’m working on), I have a quiet, guarded confidence that it will happen. Will there be cheering? Or will there be heartache? We will find out. But 12 years into shooting this shot and I still have the same smile as Efren “Bata” Reyes.

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Getting to know your Hawaiian Lobeliads #37: Trematolobelia kaalae

Trematolobelia kaalae

  • Conservation status: Apparently secure
  • Distribution: O’ahu (Wai’anae Mountains)
  • Date photographed: 3/19/2015
  • *Identification: : Form– Treelets 1-4 m tall Leaves– linear to oblanceolate, blades 15-36 cm long, 0.8-3.1 cm wide. Flower– calyx lobes triangular, 3-17 mm long, 1-3 mm wide; corolla various shades of pink, subbilabiate, 43-73 mm long.
  • Phylogenetic comments: T. kaalae is firmly nested within the Trematolobelia clade. It is sister to T. macrostacys and all the taxa found on the newer and younger islands.
  • My notes: Aside from location, Trematolobelia kaalae differs from the other 2 species of Trematolobelia found on O’ahu by it’s flowering: it tends to bloom in the spring and early summer. Trematolobelia in general is one of the few native lobeliads I’ve seen with self-sustaining populations: one can come across seedlings where populations are established.
  • Additional Photos:

*From Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i

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Lobeliad update

Going through the updated phylogeny for the lobeliad series. Wow, there is a lot to unpack! And a lot for me to update. Even my last post is basically out of date now. I’ll be updating each entry as I go.

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Snapshot: Ginko trees and connections in deep time

Arbor day in Hawai’i is coming up again and I am reminded of my trip to Korea about 8 years ago. We were staying at the Jeongju Hanok Village when we came across this old Ginko tree with a sign. Apparently, a high ranking official had planted it in the hopes that young scholars advance in their posts free of injustice.

Now what really moved me was that an actual person 600 years ago planted that young tree and I was directly able to enjoy their foresight and effort. I’ve been planting and restoring dozens of species of native plants at our restoration site over the last decade. It’s thousands and thousands of seedlings at this point. While on one hand it is a shame that I will never sit in the shade of the lama, hala pepe, ‘ohi’a seedlings that I’m planting now; I get such a sense of fulfillment knowing that a kid may enjoy the shade of the trees I’m planting some 600 years hence. It is so simple and straightforward, planting baby trees, that it seems insignificant. Yet not many easy things one does in their lifetime that someone a millennium from now can only fully appreciate. People may work hard enough for their career and have a park named after them. Which is well and good. But one can also plant the trees in the park as well.

To top it of we have blogs now. Sure there was a carved stone next to the tree stating the guy’s intentions, but we don’t really know. Who knows what the future technology looks like, but I’d imagine they could read this blog. So, hello children of the year 2622! I hope you can take a picture of the giant lama trees that I’m about the plant this coming arbor day the same way I did with this Gingko tree on a small street in Jeongju, South Korea.

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Getting to know your Hawaiian Lobeliads #36: Cyanea membrenacea

Cyanea membrenacea

  • Conservation status: Critically Endangered
  • Distribution: O’ahu (Wai’anae Mountains)
  • Date photographed: 8/20/2022
  • *Identification: Form– Sparingly branched shrubs 2-4m tall Leaves– oblanceolate to oblong, blades 18-32 cm long, 3-9 cm wide. Flower– calyx lobes dentiform, 0.5-1 mm long; corolla white, sometimes slightly tinged pale purplish, 30-40 mm long, 3-4 mm wide, tube suberect to gently curved
  • Phylogenetic comments: Let’s take a bit of a deeper dive into the plants currently circumscribed in Cyanea and how this relates to the placement of C. membrenacea. 2022 update — The purple fruited Cyanea spp have been divided into 4 separate clades with C. membrenacea nesting within the angustifolia clade. The 4 clades themselves seem to have good support to be actually sister to the Clermontia clade and combined are in turn sister to the orange fruited Cyanea spp. Which would technically mean they would need a new name. But of course that highlights the difference between phylogeny (the evolutionary relationships) and the phylogenetic nomenclature (the naming of said relationships)
  • My notes: I finally caught this fine specimen in full inflorescence! Though to be fair, it’s really just me working on Pu’u ‘Ohi’a and not hiking as much anymore (It maybe flowering regularly and I’m too lazy to see it ­čśŤ ). However seeing this guy was a real treat. Hiking the southern Wai’anae Mts is still a very strange experience for me; I’m still not use to seeing certain taxa like Cyanea is drier environments. But the lighter water regimen wasn’t stopping this specimen: it was much taller than me with a significant trunk.
  • Additional Photos:

*From Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai’i

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The Reification of Pu’u ‘Ohi’a: Manoa Cliff 10 years part II

Part I showed what we have done in the last 10 years at the restoration site. What lessons did we learn in that time that may help for the next 10 years?

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Let’s talk about: Olomea

I’m going to try something a bit different. I got the inspiration for doing this from the 1 comment in the aka’aka’awa post. Internet searches can and are wonderful ways to find out about native Hawaiian plants and animals. But images can only go so far. If I can add a little bit of natural history or personal experience with certain taxa maybe I can help folks gain a greater appreciation for the biota we share theses islands with. So having said that, let’s talk about Olomea (Perrottetia sandwicensis)!

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Manoa Cliff 10 years Part I: A look back

It seems like yesterday I walked into the native forest on Tantalus. It is a memory that sticks out clearly in my mind; June 20, 2010. And in a seeming instant, a decade has past.

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Rare post on a common bird

It has been over a year since I last posted. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the blog going into the future. In the meantime, I visited Texas for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed the grackles in the city.


Great tailed grackles (Quiscaulus mexicanus) are a very common bird in urban San Antonio. I saw hundreds roosting on powerlines along the various highways around the city. Now coming from Hawai’i, we just don’t have birds of this size commonly seen in town.

This successful bird highlights the many challenges facing future of human/animal interactions. For many residence of the town, grackles are a nuisance. Their droppings make a mess of vehicles and property. Grackles have been called loud and annoying.

There is also a question of their native status. They seemed to have greatly expanded their range inland in the beginning of the 20th century. Davis (1940) listed great tailed grackles as vagrants to Brazos County. By 1951 Petrides & Davis listed them as resident. Their range seems to still be expanding as human continue to develop urban areas.

Another year, and the questions still remain the same; how do we share this planet that we live on? Someday, I hope we have to worry about the hordes of ‘i’iwi and ‘akiapolo’au raining droppings on our cars. Those are the problems I’d much rather be solving. Happy New Year’s to all!

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The face that we almost forgot


If you are of a particular age cohort, you will remember the sensation that was M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense. Lauded, then cliched, for its plot twist, the movie was also known for Haley Joel Osment’s famous utterance: “I see dead people.” I bring this up here at Studia Mirabilium not because I’m doing a movie review but because it is a great cultural shorthand for how I describe the scientific reconstruction that my mind’s eye does. For while I don’t see dead people… I do see dead birds. Namely the extinct ones.

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