Tree is dedicated in honor of USDA anniversary

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Miles Hakoda, (808) 956-3093
Director, Office Communication Services, College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources
Posted: Jun 26, 2012

On June 21, 2012, the dedication of a tree related to the native wiliwili on the UH Manoa campus commemorated the 150th anniversary of two important acts in America’s agricultural history. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln established the U.S. Department of Agriculture and also signed into law the Morrill Act, which created the land-grant university system.
The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) and USDA jointly hosted a tree dedication in celebration of their long partnership and in honor of these anniversaries. 
CTAHR Interim Dean Sylvia Yuen gave a welcome speech detailing the creation of the land-grant system of what have been called “the people's universities,” in contrast to the exclusive private universities that had existed previously. USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Diane Ley gave a brief history of the USDA and some of its accomplishments for the nation as a whole and for Hawai‘i in particular. 
One such accomplishment, and an example of the partnership between CTAHR and USDA, was the identification, field testing, and permitting of a biocontrol wasp predator of the Erythrina gall wasp that devastated the state’s native wiliwili trees. Working with the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, researchers in the college searched for and identified the African wasp Eurytoma erythrinae, which preys on the Erythrina gall wasp but does not harm any other species.
The USDA was instrumental in permitting the wasp predator to be used in the Islands, and results thus far are proving successful, leading to the hope that wiliwili trees will soon flourish throughout the state again.
The tree that was dedicated, Erythrina abyssinica, is a relative of the native wiliwili and is resistant to the gall wasp. The tree was nurtured from seed and planted by CTAHR emeritus horticulturist Dr. Richard Criley.

The ceremony was one of many throughout the country honoring USDA’s and the Morrill Act’s 150th anniversaries. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., this month will incorporate a celebration of these anniversaries, drawing representatives from all over the U.S.

CTAHR has sent delegates from several research and extension projects to this festival as well.

(Caption) CTAHR Interim Dean Sylvia Yuen and the USDA's Diane Ley plant a non-endemic wiliwili tree.