LICH Conference 2014: Essential fungi & the threatening scourge of the Coconut Rhino Beetle

October 17, 2014
Rick's sketch of Essential Forest Fungi

Rick’s sketch of Essential Forest Fungi

Diagram by: Rick Quinn

Diagram by: Rick Quinn

By: Tomoko Naka

The Landscape Industry Council in Hawaii (LICH) held its 12th Annual Conference and Tradeshow on October 9, 2014 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. A diverse crowd involved in Hawai‘i’s landscape industry came to the conference.

Although resort and property management as well as  pesticide/pest management were the two main themes of the conference this year, speakers presented on a wide range of interesting topics.

Richard Quinn, our lead Landscape Architect and Principal of HHF Planners (HHF), presented one of the conference sessions, “Understanding the Native Plant Biome in Landscape Use of Native Plants.”

Planting native plants is all the rage in the landscaping business. However, establishing native plants especially in an urban landscape setting has been challenging for many designers and contractors in Hawai‘i. Even though we often hear that the key to the success of native plants is in the soil, nobody has explained the reason behind it. In his session, Rick divulged how native plants depend on their biome, comprised of associated micro-organisms. He explained how the interaction of Mycorrhizal fungus and Endophytic fungus play a role in establishing healthy native plants by providing the plants with nutrients and increased resistance to pathogens and diseases. Drawing from years of  research with his experience creating and monitoring the Native Hawaiian Garden at the University of Hawai‘i’s Shidler Business College as well as the recent installation of a native garden at the IBM Building, Rick presented his unique approach to creating a native garden ecosystem. Using attractive illustrative sketches and photos, he made a rather complicated subject easy to understand. The room was packed with people, showing the high interest in this topic by the whole industry.

Rick differentiates between indigenous and endemic native plants

Rick differentiates between indigenous and endemic native plants

Besides Rick’s fascinating session, there was great interest in pest control, particularly in the face of recent attacks of the Rhinoceros Beetle on Coconut Palms, the Stem Gall Wasp on Chinese Banyans and more frighteningly, the Lobate Lac Scale on various plant species. Dr. Arnold Hara, an Entomologist fromthe University of Hawai‘i, and other speakers discussed the current status of infestations, life cycles, distribution, and control of these invasive species. HHF is currently working with SWCA and the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation on the establishment of Sentinel Landscape Plans to more proactively detect invasive species coming in to the islands. Today’s topic was another validation of the necessity of the establishment of Sentinel Landscapes for the early detection of pest infestation and control.

Coconut rhinoceros beetle larvae is larger than the adult! Specimen courtesy of: OISC

Coconut rhinoceros beetle larvae is larger than the adult! Specimen courtesy of: OISC

As a landscape designer, I always enjoy attending the LICH Conference. I learn something new every time I attend, motivating me to be a better designer. It is a unique conference that brings people from different professions in the green industry together; landscape architects and designers, researchers and professors, contractors, arborists, nursery workers and other individuals who really care about the environment.  Collaborations such as those at the LICH Conference are what is needed to improve the landscape industry. I encourage you all to attend the LICH Conference in 2015!


See Rick’s blog on,”Landscaping the Fungi Way.”

Check out the LICH website and Hawai‘i Landscape Magazine here and take a glimpse at the conference program.

For more of Rick’s work with native Hawaiian plants, see our blog, “Secrets from a Native Hawaiian Garden – The IBM Building Landscape,” and landscape architecture portfolio.

For the latest on the status of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle threat in Hawai‘i, see the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council’s Response Update.

Tomoko Naka is a Landscape Designer with experience in commercial, condominium, resort, commercial, and high-end residential projects. Her interests are in sustainable landscape design and native gardens.


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