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Bobea sandwicensis | by D.Eickhoff
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Bobea sandwicensis


Rubiaceae (Coffee family)

Hawaiian endemic genus (Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and Maui)

IUCN: Vulnerable

Oʻahu (Cultivated)


Early Hawaiians had many uses for ʻahakea. It was used for canoe (waʻa) construction, the hard yellowish or reddish wood of ʻahakea was the most favorite wood for making gunwales strakes (moʻo), the forward end piece (lāʻau ihu), and the aft piece (lāʻau hope). Canoe paddles were also made from ʻahakea wood.


It was also the preferred to frame hale (house) doorways and door frames (lapauila) because the reddish or yellowish colored wood was a chiefly color.


Poi boards (papa kuʻi poi) were made from ʻahakea because its close grained wood.


ʻAhakea, mixed with kukui nuts, was also used medicinally to help with abscesses, burst sores (ʻili pūhō); scar, perhaps tuberculosis; (ʻalaʻala); and itch, ulcer (meʻeau). The bark and leaves were boiled and used to bathe in.



The generic name Bobea is named by Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré in 1830 for Jean-Baptiste Bobe-Moreau, physician and pharmacist in the French Marine.


The specific epithet sandwicensis refers to the "Sandwich Islands," as the Hawaiian Islands were once called, and named by James Cook on one of his voyages in the 1770s. James Cook named the islands after John Montagu (The fourth Earl of Sandwich) for supporting Cook's voyages.

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Taken on July 11, 2009