Agricultural production in Hawaii has long depended on windbreaks composed of the “tall wiliwili” (Erythrina variegata). Also known as tropic coral, the tall wiliwili is easy to grow and quickly forms windbreaks that conserve moisture and reduce crop damage and soil erosion. In 2005, the Erythrina Gall Wasp was found attacking all Erythrina variegata cultivars, and by 2006, this pest had spread throughout the State of Hawaii, quickly destroying wiliwili windbreaks.
O’ahu RC&D collaborated with Hawaii Agriculture Research Center and Pioneer Hi-bred International to determine if bamboo could serve as a suitable windbreak material. Growth rates were measured at three planting sites on Oahu in order to observe the influence of soil type, air temperature, precipitation and solar radiation.
Several different bamboo species were identified as excellent multi-purpose plants that are non-invasive, wind-resistant and rapid-growing, with results indicating Bambusa heterostachya, Bambusa oliveriana and Bambusa lako among the best species for rapidly establishing windbreaks on Oahu.
1. Bambusa heterostachya grows 25 to 35 feet tall. It is well adapted to most conditions in Hawaii and forms a dense hedge.
2. Bambusa oliveriana grows 30 to 40 feet with 2-inch canes. It is wind tolerant, has wood of good quality, edible shoots and is currently used as a windbreak and privacy hedge.
3. Bambusa lako grows 40 to 50 feet tall with 4-inch canes. It is an outstanding ornamental, which is adapted to dry, windy locations.
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