A wet day in a dry forest

We hiked into West Makaleha gulch to check out the neat dry forest found there. It did turned into a rain soaked adventure. Still, seeing some unique species made the soggy, slippery trek was worth it. In dry hindsight anyway…

One of the first native plants we came across was this morning glory (Ipomea cairica). It has a fairly broad habitat range, at least here on O’ahu. These guys were in the dry scrubland early on the trail. But I’ve seen this species in wetter forest in the Ko’olaus.

This type of A’ali’i (Dodonaea spp.) is only found in the Wai’anae range. This one is Dodonaea stenoptera. It has huge, bulbous fruit that almost look like balloons.

The vegetation changed a lot once we entered the dry forests. There were certain areas that it was almost totally native. The 2 dominant trees were lama (Diospyros spp.) and lonomea (Sapidus oahuensis). It was cool that the more common species was the strange reticulated leaf one (Diospyros hillebrandii).  Plus, it was great to see that the forest was regenerating: there were lama and lonomea seedlings everywhere.

lama seedling

lonomea seedling

Traversing the dry forest was a little tough because the understory was so open. Instead of understory plants binding the soil, it was all loose talus and scree prone to slipping away beneath your feet. But the next area we hit was very interesting botanically. Used to be anyway.

This spot had about half dozen wild kaulu (Pteralyxia macrocarpa). I’m always happy to come across it because I think it is such a pretty species. Who needs plumerias when our own apocynaceae are way cooler. Flowers-schmowers!

Next to these kaulu was a dead Fluggea neowawraea. It’s so rare nowadays that even seeing the dead specimens is a treat. We came across several dead trees in the area. Fluggea rots in a particular way: it has these large vertical grooves that cut in pretty deeply into the trunk. It makes the rotting logs really easy to spot.

Unfortunately, we’ll have to abruptly end it here. It started downpouring shortly after I took these photos. It made the open understory even more hazardous. To top it off, we started seeing more and more lightning strikes. MGMT might have sang about the electric feel, but I’d rather not witness that firsthand. Needless to say we beat a hasty retreat. Till next time Makaleha…

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2 Responses to A wet day in a dry forest

  1. Scott Ka'ae says:

    Great pictures of the Mehamehame @ Makaleha. The forest there is unique and beautiful. Look for the Uhiuhi. Hope they are still alive. Good luck.

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