150-Year-Old Banyan Tree Inspiring Hope in Hawaii

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By Jill Brooke

Photo Credit: Lahaina Restoration Foundation

It is a familiar occurrence in the human experience that trees and flowers offer symbols of hope.

In devastated Maui, wildfires across Hawaii have killed more than 99 people, making it the deadliest U.S. wildfires in history.

However, a special tree representing 300 years of history is damaged but still alive.

As NBC News reported, “A large banyan tree in the heart of Old Lahaina that was badly scorched by the fires that ransacked Maui appears to have emerged from the flames still standing.

In the aftermath of the devastating fires, residents are looking to the tree as a symbol of the devastation — and hope.”

According to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, the tree was planted in 1873 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Protestant mission in Lahaina. Over the years, residents have helped the tree to grow symmetrically by hanging water-filled jars on specific aerial roots.

Its sprawling branches — some stretching more than 60 feet — provided shade to many generations there.

Photo Credit: Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke

Undoing the devastation will “take years,” Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke (D) in a news conference.

But flowers and trees are resilient, hopeful reminders of the work ahead.

You may remember that during the Japanese Olympics in 2021, all winners were given special bouquets of yellow, green and bright blue flowers.

These flowers represented Japan rising from a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Parents of children who died in the wake of the tsunami subsequently went to Miyagi to plant sunflowers in memory of the innocent lives lost. Sunflowers were planted in their memory even though the region is best known for roses.

The lisianthus was grown in Fukushima, which suffered a nuclear disaster.

“I hope there is a chance to introduce to the world how much Fukushima has recovered through the flowers,” Yukari Shimizu, who grows flowers in a town that was formerly off-limits because of the radiation, told Kyodo News.  It’s indeed a message of hope. 

As we know, since ancient times, flowers and trees have not only been a source of comfort but also quietly teach lessons about the cycles as well as the fragility of life.

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