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Acacia koaia | by D.Eickhoff
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Acacia koaia

Koaiʻa, Koaiʻe, or Dwarf koa

Fabaceae

Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands

Status: Vulnerable

Kohala, Hawaiʻi Island. Mauna Kea in background (left)

 

The dense reddish brown wood is harder than koa and was used by early Hawaiians for short spears (ihe), long spears (pololū), fish lures (lāʻau melomelo), shark hooks (makau manō) with bone points, bait sticks in fishing, fancy paddles (hoe), house (hale) construction, ʻukēkē (musical bow), calabashes (ʻumeke), and the ʻiʻe kūkū --the final beater to smooth out the kapa.

 

Koaiʻa was not used for making canoes (waʻa) because it produced curly grained wood.

 

The crushed koaiʻa leaves were mixed with other plant materials and used in a steam bath for skin disorders.

 

One older source (Charles Gaudichaud,1819) states that Hawaiians "used all fragrant plants, all flowers and even colored fruits" for lei making. The red or yellow were indicative of divine and chiefly rank; the purple flowers and fruit, or with fragrance, were associated with divinity. Because of their long-standing place in oral tradition, the leaves and flowers of koaiʻa were likely used for lei making by early Hawaiians, even though there are no written sources.

 

NPH00002

nativeplants.hawaii.edu/plant/view/Acacia_koaia

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Taken on May 31, 2008