Doubts cast upon controversial tree

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero is limiting the pause to the area around the last reproducing Hayun Lagu' or Serianthes Nelsonii tree.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero will request for a pause in military construction, but she is limiting the pause to the area around the last reproducing Hayun Lagu’ or Serianthes Nelsonii tree.

However, this raises the question: Why pause construction around Hayun Lagu’, particularly with the sickly state of the tree, that experts have found to be beyond resuscitation or revival?

According to a statement from local expert, Dr. James McConnell, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist at the University of Guam’s College of Natural and Applied Sciences, the Northwest Field, Ritidian habitat does not appear to be a particularly unique nor a special environment for the Serianthes Nelsonii tree.

“No seedlings around the mother tree have survived to maturity in the approximately 50 years the tree was under observation. The Northwest Field area did not develop into a reproducing population in its undisturbed state. Because the area did not establish a population this indicates that it is not a special environment nor unique environment for Serianthes Nelsonii,” McConnell said.

Speaker Tine Muna Barnes also said that the tree “has gone through a lot of heartache” and it’s about 80 percent diminished already.

“If I’m not mistaken but I do know as I said earlier that there continues to be a study on that tree that is indigenous to Guam and how important it is to us. I want you to know that it has gone through a lot of beatings and what they are trying to do, and what they are trying to work with is trying re-population and protecting the area around that,” the Speaker said.

With various experts and lawmakers noting the unhealthy state of the Hayun Lagu, why then would the pause to clearing and construction, focus mainly on the area surrounding the tree?

Could it be under the assumption that it is the only fire tree with that particular genetic make-up? But Dr. McConnell disagrees.

“There are some genetic differences among the parental trees in Guam and Rota, but they are the same species,” he said.