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Letters: 7-7-17

Updated: 
July 7, 2017 - 12:05am

Better choices than kahili ginger

I am astonished that Norman C. Bezona again suggested that kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum) is acceptable to grow in our gardens. This is the same column he published a year ago, with a few small changes.

Kahili ginger was introduced about 60 years ago as an ornamental plant. It quickly escaped cultivation to invade deep into the native forest and along our roadways. It spreads by rhizomes underground making a dense root mat that effectively smothers any chance of native germination. Birds drop the seeds far away, which can establish into new fruiting populations.

Even if you grow kahili ginger away from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (or any other wet native forest on Hawaii Island) you are still risking the health of our forest as it spreads easily from the garden to the forest and thrives in the shade.

It’s true kahili ginger smells nice and is easy to grow. But at what cost? Anyone driving toward Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has seen kahili ginger growing among native plants. We don’t see the funding and resources conservation organizations dedicate to controlling this highly invasive plant or the volunteers who dedicate their free time to control this species. Much of the conservation work in Hawaii is combating invasive species and animals. By planting these highly invasive species, much of our work in undone. Mr. Bezona downplayed the threat of kahili ginger and other invasive plants.

There are so many other choices, Mr. Bezona mentioned the 1,300 species in the ginger family. According to plantpono.org: Gardenia, Malay rose, Tahitian gardenia, kwai fa, and cape jasmine are all sweet smelling and easy to grow alternatives that won’t hurt our native plants. Plantpono.org offers many planting choices, including gingers, that won’t jump over your garden boundary and invade the native forest.

Molly Murphy

Hilo

AG fighting good fight

On the contrary, Attorney General Doug Chen is a hero. He is a fighter for our hard-earned but fragile constitutional rights. He is trying to protect us from becoming more hateful and suspicious of others, whom our president callously considers criminals. He is fighting to ensure that we don’t start assuming others, like our grandparents, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends who want to come to visit this country, are not “enemies of the state,” as Hitler did and poisoned the minds of his country.

It is a slippery slope becoming suspicious of our visitors to becoming suspicious of our neighbors and then our own families. Although, perhaps we are already there?

Joyce O’Connor

Waimea

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