It remains unclear if the 150-year-old Banyan tree on Lahaina's front street will make it. Tourists have marveled under the tree for decades, as the tree grew to 60' tall and covered more than a half acre. Hopefully, it has survived.
Lahaina was once Hawaii's royal capital, and the tree on Front Street is one of the town's many historical marvels. It was just eight feet tall when it was planted in 1873 to commemorate a Protestant mission to Lahaina a half-century earlier, but years of careful tending by residents helped it grow to more than than 60 feet tall, according to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, which manages more than a dozen historic sites in the town. "It's said that if the roots are healthy, it will likely grow back," county officials said in an update about the tree late Wednesday. "But it looks burned." County and tourism officials did not immediately respond to requests for more information on Thursday morning. James B. Friday, an extension forester with the University of Hawaii, said he had been looking from Honolulu at photos and videos of the tree and was not hopeful about the tree's prospects. The banyan would have been protected, he said, by a layer of bark too thin to likely withstand these fires.
Having spent time on Maui, I have been horrified to watch as news of the fires there developed. The status of this tree has been top of my mind.