One of the most striking features of Mauna Kea is the māmane forest. These native trees are generally found from 5,000-9,000ft elevation on the slopes of the mountain. The māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) is highly variable in appearance, growing as a shrub or a tree, bearing bright yellow flowers in late winter months.

At around 8,000ft there is a fence built to keep feral sheep and cattle out of the māmane forest and to protect the endangered palila (Loxioides bailleui).  Above this fence the trees thrive, below the fence the forest is nearly dead.  The hillsides scattered with relic trees where no young trees survive the herbivores to replace them. While desolate in appearance these old trees can be quite photogenic.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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