Okay, so they aren’t really olives, but they are in the Olive family, Oleacea. I’m referring to olopua, also known as Nestegis sandwicensis. This tree is a long-lived endemic species to Hawaii, sadly inedible, found in dry to mesic forests. So what does all that mean?
Well, a long lived tree is one that does just that – it lives a long time! Typically greater than 5 years. An endemic species is one that can only be found in a certain region or area. These plants (and animals) are often vulnerable to extinction because of their small range; however, olopua is currently not listed as threatened. These trees grow in dry forests, literally meaning forests with little annual rainfall, or mesic forests, which have moderate amounts of rainfall. Inedible of course meaning we can’t eat them :(
This is the second tree species we are adding to our experimental plots to study predation and germination, along with the lama. Strangely though, we can’t find any ripe fruit! It seems as though they are all being eaten by predators in the trees themselves before they become ripe and fall to the ground. Similar to an olive, you will know when the fruit is ripe when it turns purple/black. All the ones we find are still hard and green. (See picture above for image of the fruit, the darker one has begun to decompose, but its not ripe).
Our experiment requires that we use ripe whole fruit and ripe fruit that has had the pulp taken off. However, for weeks we have been waiting for ripe fruit to drop and it still hasn’t, so we decided to go ahead with the trial with the unripe fruits, but only setting up 50% of the plots.
Always make sure you are on the same page with everyone on the team! Otherwise you may have to re-set or re-do experiments. I accidentally covered the fruits with leaves in their plots when we set them out two weeks ago, which we weren’t supposed to do. We re-set them this weekend. Pictured here is the corrected plot setup.
This week we were lucky to have a few extra people joining us to remonitor and reset plots. This included my advisor, Dr. Ticktin, and her daughter. As well as my labmate, Georgia, and her husband, Gil.
In addition to setting out the plots, we also did a little more exploring. Here is a little collage of people and plants I took over the past two weeks.