Website speaks for the trees

April 22, 2013  |   |  1 Comment
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One of the main reasons the campus of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is such a scenic place is because it’s home to more than 3,000 trees, representing more than 475 different species.

“That’s crazy,” said UH Mānoa student Chari Rabino with a laugh. “I didn’t notice it at first.”

“It’s really incredible,” agreed fellow student Jacob Iverson. “Just walking by, you don’t really think about that. It is very impressive.”

“There are trees on this campus that are on no other campus in the U.S.,” said UH Mānoa graduate student Austin Stankus, who works in the university’s landscaping department. “We have a very diverse collection and some trees you can’t see anywhere else.”

UH Mānoa received a Tree Campus USA recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation, given to select colleges and universities for promoting healthy trees. In that spirit of conservation, Stankus and fellow student Nate Ortiz, created a website that maps, and provides basic information, on just about every tree on campus.

“The landscaping department has been using this app, this desktop application for quite a while, using it to manage the tree,” said Stankus. “But we realized that this information was so interesting that we want to share it with everybody.”

Website users can click on the tree they’re interested in and a window comes up with the tree’s scientific, English and Hawaiian names; a brief description; and information like if it is native, poisonous and endangered.

Some of the more interesting trees on campus include the Sausage tree, Cannon Ball tree and the Dead Rat tree. The Dead Rat tree got its name because it looks like dead rats are hanging from the branches by their tails. Most trees blend into the landscape, but still make a significant contribution to campus life, like monkey pod trees.

“They’re also called rain trees because they give you some shelter from the rain and also from the sun,” said Stankus.

The campus also has about two-dozen memorial trees, planted in honor of important historical figures like civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. To get to the tree mapping website, go to the UH Mānoa landscaping department website and click on the mapping portal.

“Every student has a favorite tree or a favorite place on campus that they would want to know just a little bit more and hopefully this would provide that for them,” said Stankus.

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  1. What a wonderful and important project. Students, staff and teachers spend many hours a day on campus and they all enjoy the plants that affect our wellbeing. We can give gratitude to the plants and the people who helped planting them on our campus by learning more about each and every tree, bush and flower. Moreover, living in Hawaii, we have the responsibility to learn to identify the native plants and appreciate them, as they are the diamond in the rough.

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