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In the last few years, one plant Miconia calvescens has been singled out as a major threat to Hawaiian ecosystems.

Introduced to the main island of Tahiti in 1937 in three small populations, it no covers 70% of Tahiti’s native forests. Tahitians call the Micona the “green cancer.”

Miconia kills native species by covering them in dense shade and thickets of its own seedlings. Miconia was brought into Hawai‘i as an ornamental. On Maui, seedlings have escaped from the Botanic gardens where they were planted, and are beginning to spread.

If Miconia becomes uncontrollable on Maui, where rain forests and habitat are very similar to Tahiti, many Hawaiian species are likely to be lost within 30-50 years.