Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM
THE TREE MOLDS AT PU‘UHONUA O HONAUNAU: LATE PERSISTENCE OF COASTAL LOULU (PRITCHARDIA) PALMS
Lava flows at Puuhonua, on the Kona Coast of Hawaii, contain molds of trees in the path of an eruption of Mauna Loa. A few of the specimens are branched and clearly represent woody dicots but most are unbranched and can be identified as the native loulu palm (Prichardia spp.) on the basis of surface characteristics and dimensions. Native palms were once prevalent in the lowlands but declined after the arrival of Polynesians. Their occurrence at Puuhonua at ~1100 BP shows that they persisted into the early Polynesian era in this part of Kona. Various of the mold morphologies described by Walker (1995) can be recognized. Unlike many types of paleontological or archeological resources, the tree molds are not particularly fragile and visitors could be encouraged to walk over the lava fields and view them at close range. Development of a self-guided tour would be an addition to the interpretive material available at the site.