Hawaii Koa Naturals

About Hawaiian Koa Wood (Acacia koa)

The Hawaiian Islands chain represents one of the most remote land masses on earth. Seeds and spores were brought to the new land by wind, waves and birds. One of these evolved into the unique Hawaiian koa tree. Acacia koa grows ONLY in Hawai’i and has been called ‘King of Hawaiian Woods’.

Koa is the largest of the native Hawaiian trees and dominates the canopy of many Hawaiian forests. The trees can mature to have trunks 6 feet in diameter and stand 100 feet tall. The wood is medium to dark brown with dark grain and sometimes has wavy or curly golden reflections. The huge trees provide habitats for a variety of other plant life, including ferns, vines, fungi, lichens, and epiphytes. Many birds and insects depend on koa forest for habitat. Over fifty species of insects found nowhere else on earth evolved specifically for koa.

When people first arrived in the islands, koa became one of the most important trees to human culture and economy. Not only is it recognized as the monarch of Hawaiian forests, it is also one of the world’s most valuable hardwoods.

While as a species, koa is not at risk of becoming endangered or threatened (it is actually the second most common tree in Hawai’i), the once extensive koa forests have been severely diminished. Only about 10% of the original koa forests are left. There are currently over 20,000 acres being grown commercially. It will be in restricted supply for 15-20 years until some of the new plantations are ready for harvest. Protecting, planting, and regenerating koa has become a concern of all people who care about Hawai’i.

The Many Uses of Koa Wood

Koa wood was and is still used to build the Hawaiian canoe, considered to be the most seaworthy roughwater crafts ever developed by any culture. It is uniquely Hawaiian as the only voyaging craft in all of Polynesia to use a solid, one-piece hull.

Koa was also used to make surfboards, paddles, spear handles, bowls, non-food calabashes, and sometimes frames for grass huts. Western influence led to the variety of uses for the wood and today, the cherished wood is made into fine furniture, flooring, musical instruments, turnery, carvings, crafts, picture frames, jewelry, and even pens!