Acacia Koa; Native Hawaiian Plant

The Acacia koa is a large species of flowering tree categorized in the pea family. The koa tree is one of Hawaii’s most common tree. Growing naturally, koa is endemic to Hawai’i. It is a native plant exclusive to the island of Hawai’i, Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, O’ahu, and Kaua’i. The highest populations can be found on Hawai’i, Maui and O’ahu.

Koa trees thrive between the elevations of 330–550 feet anywhere between 33–197 inches of rainfall annual.

Koa is one of the fastest-growing trees in Hawaii. In areas with deep rich volcanic ash koa trees are capable of growing up to 20–30 ft in a five year span. A typical tree can reach heights nearly a 100 feet high.

Koa, its name in the Hawaiian language, koa, also means brave, bold, fearless, or warrior.

The leaves of the koa tree are small, but thick sickle-blade in shape. Koa flowers are small and of a pale-yellow color. Flowering of the koa may be seasonal or year around depending on it’s location. The fruit of the koa are small pods containing about 12 seeds and are dark brown in color. Trees usually produce fruit between 5 and 30 years of age.

The wood of koa trees are one of the most sought-after in the world. With the demand, it can be one of the priciest. The solid density and reddish tint wood is very similar in strength and weight to the Black Walnut wood. The trunk of koa trees were used by ancient Hawaiians to build wa’a (dugout outrigger canoes) and papa he’e nalu (surfboards).

Koa is also a tonewood, often used in the construction of ukuleles, acoustic guitars, Weissenborn-style Hawaiian steel guitars, electric guitars as well as drum and percussion instruments.

Possessing skills of a woodman, koa wood also makes for beautiful furniture, cabinetry, flooring, framing, countless other household and unique uses.