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There are few places on Earth where life gets a clean slate to start all over, but Kilauea Volcano is one of her. Here vast areas of land are covered by recent lava flows of varying ages. It's a great place to study how pioneer species take hold in a very harsh climate.

Hawai'i Island is estimated to be only about 500,000 years old. Kind of a youngster, even in Hawaiian terms, when you think about Maui is a single.3 million years old and Kaua'i is really a ripe old 5-6 million.

On the southern slopes of Kilauea you can find some of this isle chain's newest land, some of which is not even completely cooled down! It's amazing that anything can survive on the lava flows, but survive it does, as well as its a pattern offers repeated over and more than through the millennia on each and every island in the chain. Every majestic Hawaiian forest began in just wind up.

Here are a few of the trailblazers, the rugged pioneers, the ground breaking of the green blanket of life that becomes the forest. When you find them on the lava it's as a general look into the island's distant previous.

Stereocaulon vulcani
"Hawaiian Snow" Lichen

This frosty colored lichen is so named it resembles a dusting of snow on bare lava flows. It's most often found on 'a'a as well as may appear around a few years of chilling.

This rugged plant can survive the intense sunlight and warmth of the bare, black colored rock because its light color reflects light and warmth very well.

Seeds of other species can survive and germinate in the microclimate given by this lichen.

Polypodyium pellucidum var. vulcanicum
'Ae Fern

This amazing fern is among the actual first colonizers of new lava streams. Its tiny spores, blown through wind, can endure harsh temperatures and dryness for too long periods before it finds an opportune place start off growing. The 'ae takes advantage of the smallest bit of shade and shelter appearing in cracks and fissures to think about hold its keep is not even any mud.

Ferns are very well represented all of the native flora of Hawai'i because their tiny, tough spores can resist extreme cold and heat to travel around the globe on high altitude air currents, which occasionally deposited them here.

Metrosideros polymorpha
'Ohi'a lehua

This amazing and highly adaptive endemic tree can be found from sea level just about the tree line on all essential Hawaiian Islands. The tiny seeds of its ancestor may well have arrived from New Zealand or the Marquesas on high altitude air currents millions of years prior to.

'Ohi'as are responsible for most for the organic soil found in newer Hawaiian forests as a fallen leaves break down around these kinds of. If you look around the foot of these remarkable trees you will see a a lot more plants growing than in the surrounding bare lava. The trees offer shelter out from the sun and drying winds, and a regular flow of nutrients as their fallen leaves decay.

The beautiful lehua blossoms also provide an important source of shelter and food for native birds, many of which are nectarivores.

In Hawaiian mythology, Pele's youngest sister, Hi'iakaikapoliopele wears a magical skirt associated with fern fronds. In many stories, after Pele covers land with lava in fits of rage, Hi'iaka appears and makes it green again. She lives amongst the many ferns in groves of 'ohi'a lehua, which are sacred to her. Here on southerly part of the slopes of Kilauea simply as we can witness this dramatic cycle beginning again.

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asked Mar 29, 2019 by DanielaWhite (100 points)

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