Maui’s Famous Banyan Tree Scorched by Wildfires but Still Stands

An aerial image shows the historic Banyan tree surrounded by burned cars in Lahaina in the
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Maui’s famous 150-year-old banyan tree was severely scorched by wildfires ravaging the Hawaiian island this week.

Planted in 1873, the banyan tree now covers more than half an acre of land. The tree is one of the major historical landmarks in Maui’s Lahaina town, the former capital of the Hawaiian kingdom.

The tree was imported from India and planted in front of the Lahaina Courthouse.

As the New York Times detailed:

Banyans, which are native to the Indian subcontinent, can grow so big that each tree looks like a small forest. The trees have aerial roots that develop in the branches and reach down toward the ground, forming new trunks as their canopies broaden. In Lahaina, people have encouraged the tree’s growth by hanging jars of water to tug the most promising aerial roots toward the earth.

The leafy canopy has grown to cover more than half an acre. The tree sits next to an old courthouse that has also served as a customs house, and it has become a natural gathering spot for craft fairs and other community events where people enjoy the shade of its sweeping branches.

However, some fear the tree may not survive the burns from the wildfire.

“It’s said that if the roots are healthy, it will likely grow back,” local officials said Wednesday. “But it looks burned.”

University of Hawaii extension forester Dr. James B. Friday said, “it certainly doesn’t look like that tree is going to recover.”

Local residents uploaded photos and videos to social media showing the fire’s impact on the banyan tree.

“Only time will tell if it survives the injuries sustained in the fires, but it feels like a small beacon of hope in this disaster,” one Twitter user wrote.

Still, Lahaina Restoration Foundation executive director Theo Morrison remains optimistic about the tree’s future, saying, “banyan trees are hard to kill.”

The Maui wildfires have taken at least three dozen lives and destroyed more than 270 acres this week, according to local officials.

One resident described it as “the worst disaster” they have ever seen, adding, “All Lahaina is burnt to a crisp. It’s like an apocalypse.”

“We’ve still got dead bodies floating on the seawall. They’ve been sitting there since last night. We’ve been pulling people out since last night, trying to save peoples’ lives,” one resident told reporters on Wednesday.

Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him on Twitter.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.