A 150-year-old Banyan tree imported from India and one of the largest in the US is today struggling for its survival as deadly wildfires swept through the Hawaiian island of Maui, scorching buildings and killing more than 50 people.
The 46-trunk Banyan tree, called paniana in Hawaiian, was a mere 8-foot sapling when it was planted in Maui’s Lahaina town in 1873, according to the online portal lahainatown.com.
The reason for its harvest was the 50th anniversary of the first American protestant missionary in Lahaina — a monumental event that forever altered Lahaina’s trajectory, it states.
Imported from India and planted in front of the Lahaina Courthouse and Lahaina Harbour on 1873, this sprawling tree — one of the largest banyan trees in the United States — along Front Street is the size of an entire city block and stands more than 60 feet high, online portal gohawaii.com states.
According to a CNN news report, there was widespread destruction in the historic town of Lahaina. Anything in the town centre is just completely devastated. The fires have left little to no vegetation on the precious and sprawling banyan tree.
The banyan tree celebrated its 150th birthday in April this year.
While its condition is unclear, images suggest that the tree has been burned but remains standing. The town’s website suggested the tree would recover, saying that “if the roots are healthy, it will likely grow back”.
“I tend to believe it’ll be fine. It’s really very hard to kill a banyan tree,” Theo Morrison, the executive director of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, told the BBC.
“I would be very surprised if it wasn’t fine,” she said.
A major landmark in Lahaina, the tree has provided cooling shade to generations of locals and visitors beneath its massive, sweepy branches and dangling vines, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Events and art exhibits often have been held under its boughs.
The tree has 46 major trunks in addition to its massive original one and shades nearly two-thirds of an acre, according to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation.
Its health and shape are maintained by the Maui County Arborist Committee, the CNN report said.
The devastating wildfires in Maui have so far claimed at least 55 lives. Thousands of people remain displaced.