Koa (Acacia koa)

Hawaiian name: Koa
Botanical name: Acacia koa
Family: Fabacae (Pea Family)
Status: Endemic
Where found: Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Hawai‘i, O‘ahu & Kaua‘i
Water/Light: Dry, with full to partial sunlight
Elevation range: 300 to 8,000
Height: 50 to 100 feet

From Work Done by Whit Germano to Catalog Native Hawaiian Plants

Photo courtesy of Forest & Kim Starr

Notes: Koa are fast growing trees, especially when young, and can reach impressive heights in upper elevations. In Hawaiian, koa means "brave, bold, and fearless." Early Hawaiians carefully crafted large koa into war canoe (wa‘a). Koa wood was also used in home construction and to make spears, paddles, kahili handles, and calabashes (‘umeke lā‘au). The bark was used as dye to stain kapa a red color. Medicinally, young koa leaves were used to ease cramps or fevers. Koa is drought and wind tolerant, but does not tolerate salt, over-watering, or shade.

Photo: Starr

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