Malama ‘aina / Arbor Day is on Friday, and on Saturday, in the Hawaiian Electric Company & Partners Arbor Day Tree Giveaway, fruit trees, palms, shrubs and native plants will be up for a free adoption. Not only an age-old tradition–Queen Liliuokalani is known to have planted royal palms on Arbor Day each year–planting trees also protects our environment by limiting the need for air conditioning.
According to HECO Spokesperson Janet Crawford, trees provide passive cooling to homes when they block the hot sun, reducing A/C usage by 15–50 percent. Trees also help clean the air and prevent soil erosion, but on top of that, the giveaway aims to draw attention to the safety aspect of keeping mature trees away from power lines. “Electricity can arc 10 feet to reach a pathway to the ground,” says Crawford, which means that trees need to be planted where fruit pickers, branches, children and kites won’t cross that 10-foot boundary.
Since 1993, more than 20,000 trees have been distributed in Hawaii on Arbor Day. Of the 2,700 trees to be given away this year on Oahu (specifically cultivated for this event by Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program, the UH Urban Garden Center and Papahana Kualoa), three new species will make their arbor debut: gardenia Aimee Yoshioka, Munroidendron racemosum (endemic to Kauai) and red sealing wax palm. Typical fruit trees such as pomegranate, mountain apple and fig, along with Tahitian gardenia, puakenikeni and many others will also be available, but arrive early to snatch up your flora before they’re all gone (only one plant per family will be given while supplies last, but the UH Urban Garden Center and Waimea Valley will hold plant sales as well).
Whether you’re unfamiliar with proper plant care, are just starting out or want some extra tips, certified arborists can help you choose the right tree or shrub for you and your family.