HONOLULU — The state Department of Agriculture is reminding people attending the Merrie Monarch hula festival in Hilo later this month that quarantine restrictions are in effect for Big Island ohia.

The department said Wednesday anyone who wants to carry ohia flowers, stems and other parts of the plant off the Big Island needs a permit to do so.

A fungus called rapid ohia death is killing the island’s ohia trees. Officials want to make sure it doesn’t spread to other islands.

Scientists are worried the disease will wipe out the state’s ohia trees, which are the backbone of Hawaii’s native forests and watersheds.

Many hula dancers competing at the festival to avoid wearing ohia flowers during their performances so they don’t spread the fungus.

The weeklong festival begins on Sunday.