Koa (Acacia koa)

Hawaiian name: Koa
Botanical name: Acacia koa
Family: Fabacae (Pea Family)
Status: Endemic
Where found: All main islands except Ni‘ihau & Kaho‘olowe
Water/Light: Full sun, dry to wet
Elevation range: 180 to 6,180 feet (short-lived below 2000 feet)
Height: Usually 50 feet, max of 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

Please Consider
Making a Donation

Every dollar contributed to Maui Nui Botanical Gardens goes directly towards the preservation of Native Hawaiian Plants and the upkeep of our collection that includes some of the rarest specimens in whole world!

A Few Native Hawaiian Plants from the MNBG Collection