The 150-year-old banyan tree that was heavily damaged in the Maui wildfire in August is beginning to sprout new leaves, a sign of hope and progress amid the ongoing recovery efforts in the historic town of Lahaina.
The 60-foot tall Indian banyan tree covers one quarter of a mile and shades nearly two-thirds of an acre, according to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation. It has become a beloved landmark in Lahaina.
Fresh leaves are now sprouting thanks to the local arborists who volunteered their time to save the tree, according to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. The organization says the new growth indicates positive signs for the tree's long-term recovery.
Arborist Steve Nimz of Tree Solutions Hawaii inspected the tree and "found no significant signs of singeing, charring or cracking on the main trunk or most of its more than 40 aerial roots," according to local news outlet Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Nimz also found live tissue in the tree’s cambium and said the soil under the tree does not appear to be burned.
The outlet added that the ground surrounding the tree "has been aerated to improve drainage, and is getting regular servings of nutrient-rich “compost tea.”
The Lahaina Restoration Foundation says this is the largest banyan tree in the country and Lahaina's courthouse square was renamed "Banyan Tree Park" in its honor.
The Lahaina wildfire, which is now 100% contained, has affected an estimated 2,170 acres. At least 97 people were killed and thousands of structures were destroyed in the blaze.
Lahaina, the former capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1962 for its cultural and historical significance.