COURTESY OF BEN YASHON
The Permaculture Group is selling potted ha'o trees as an alternative to traditional pine Christmas trees as part of an effort to increase indigenous trees on Maui.
Christmas tree project trades in ax for a spade
MAKAWAO, Maui » A Maui business is offering a native alternative to the pine Christmas tree.
The Permaculture Group said buyers can plant the potted native trees in their yard after Christmas, as part of an effort to increase indigenous trees on the Valley Isle.
Group spokesman Joseph Imhoff said the "Planting Christmas" project includes a program to assist buyers in the planting.
"The cool thing is a project like this connects people with the earth," Imhoff said.
"It's like giving a Christmas present to the earth. ... It's kind of like giving a home to a native bird after Christmas."
For those unable to find a yard for their tree after Christmas, the group will find a good home for it, Imhoff said.
Imhoff said for this year, he chose the ha'o, also known as the Hawaiian ironwood, the only plumeria tree that is endemic to Hawaii.
The trees stand 3 to 5 feet tall and can grow more than 20 feet high under the right conditions, he said.
Imhoff said the ha'o thrives in dry sunny climate, so the ideal locations for planting it are Upcountry, Kahului, Wailuku, Kihei and Lahaina.
He said the trees cost $50 each, including tax and delivery.
Imhoff said he and his wife, Sara Tekula, developed the idea out of their wedding ceremony this year.
He said friends who attended the wedding were asked to write down their hopes for the couple and put the slips of paper into a hole, later planted with a koa tree.
"We felt so good we decided to extend it to others," he said.
"It's great to know that each Christmas I'm not cutting down a tree, I'm planting one."