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Gouania meyenii

Smoothfruit chewstick


Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands (Kauaʻi, Oʻahu)


Waiʻanae Mountains, Oʻahu


Though no known use by the early Hawaiians or in modern times, other species outside of the Hawaiian Islands have the fitting name "chew-stick" (chewstick). The Urban chewstick, or white root (Gouania lupuloides), is used widely by local people from Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, and into Central and South America as a tooth cleaner. A stick about the thickness of the small finger, with bark removed, is chewed thus strengthening the gums. The stick produces a slightly bitter, yet aromatic, soap-like froth (saponins) when chewed. The softened stick is then used by rubbing the teeth much like a toothbrush.


In times past, dried and powdered forms were exported to Europe and the United States. Jamaicans still use chewstick for medicine and in a mouthwash called "Chew-Dent." They also use it in making ginger beer, a stronger tasting ginger ale. Chewstick is also used in brewing beer as a hops substitute and is perhaps why some Jamaican beers have a distinctive taste.

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Taken on July 17, 2006