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Formosan Koa

The Formosan koa (Acacia confusa) originated from Taiwan and the Philippines and was introduced to Hawaii in 1915. It belongs to the Mimosaceae family. The formosan koa thrives in moist to wet lowland forests. It has golden flowers and narrow, short, and straight leaves.

The koa tree is used for furniture, woodwork, ukuleles, and novelties. The beautiful red-grained wood was formerly used for canoes, surfboards, and calabashes.

It is said that when a Hawaiian chooses a koa tree for a canoe he needs to find one that hasn't been pecked by an elepaio.

A Formosan koa tree is located by the Auto Body Building.
Photos by Diane Kanahele © 2004


Hala (Pandanus tectorius) belongs to the Pandanaceae (Screwpine) family. Hala is found throughout the Pacific Islands along the shorelines and coastal cliffs. The hala leaves are used to make mats, hats, and boxes. It was once used by the traditional sailors to make canoe masts and also used to weave a wide range of articles.

The hala trees are either male or female. The female trees have a large fruit similar to a pineapple. As the fruit ripens, it turns yellow-orange, and it is fragrant. The male tree has thousands of tiny clusters. Creamy white bracts surround the flowers, which look like white handkerchiefs that hang from the leaves. The male's flowers are also fragrant. The roots of the hala grow long and have the habit of twisting as they grow.

A hala tree is found next to the Fine Arts Building.
Photos by Anela Pahulehua © 2004