Kou (Cordia subcordata)

Hawaiian name: Kou
Botanical name: Cordia subcordata
Family: Boraginaceae (Borage Family)
Status: Indigenous
Where found: Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Hawai‘i, O‘ahu, Ni‘ihau & Kaua‘i
Water/Light: Dry, with full sun exposure
Elevation range: Up to 1,000 feet
Height: About 30 feet, with a 25 foot spread

From Work Done by Whit Germano to Catalog Native Hawaiian Plants

Notes: In old Hawai‘i, kou wood was fashioned into calabashes, dishes and utensils. Containers made of this wood were prized because it did not impart a resinous flavor to the food it held. A warm brown to red kapa dye can be made from aged kou leaves. Fishermen also used the leaves to dye their fishing lines. The orange flowers make beautiful lei. Kou was exclusively thought to be a Polynesian-introduced tree. However, recent evidence of kou was found on the island of Kaua‘i that pre-dates human arrival. It is now recognized as indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands. This native is drought, wind and salt tolerant.

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