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Canoe Plants of Hawaii

Canoe Plants of Hawaii

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Canoe Plants refers to plants that were brought by ancient Polynesians and introduced to the Pacific Islands when they first inhabited. The settlers came to the islands via canoe, so the plants varieties they brought with them are now designated “Canoe Plants”.

It is thought that the Canoe Plants were considered sacred and most useful to the ancient peoples. The Canoe Plants were or became so important to the ancient settlers that they are often now believed to be indigenous species. Sugar Cane, Banana, Coconut, Taro, Bamboo, all of these iconic “Hawaiian” species are not actually native to the islands.

The exact number of Canoes species is unknown, twenty-four species are fairly universally agreed upon. Many other species are suspected to have been introduced and there is a blurring as some species that were believed introduced may have also been native. Coconut may be one of these and Hala, which was originally believed to be a Canoe Plant has been found in the fossil record indicating that it was either Native or Native and Canoe.

The origin and name of the original settlers of Hawai’i are unknown, but it is clear that they came to the islands and brought with them the items that were most critical to their long terms survival. It is believed that cuttings, seeds, fruit and roots were stowed during their journey and used to cultivate many of the plants we see on Hawaii today.

 

List of Known Canoe Plants:

‘Ape

Alocasia macrorrhizos

Common Name: Elephant Ears

 

‘Auhuhu

Tephrosia purpurea

Fabaceae family

 

‘Awa

Piper methysticum

Common Name: Kava

 

‘Awapuhi Kuahiwi

Zingiber zerumbet

Common Name: Shampoo Ginger, Wild Ginger

 

Ipu

Lagenaria siceraria

Common Name: Bottle Gourd

 

Kalo

Colocasia esculenta

Common name: Taro

 

Kamani

Calophyllum inophyllum

Common Name: Alexandrian Laurel

 

Cordyline fruticosa

Common Name: Ti

 

Saccharum officinarum

Common Name: Sugarcane

 

Kukui

Aleurites moluccana

Common Name: Candlenut Tree

 

Mai‘a

Musa spp.

Common Name: Banana

 

Milo

Thespesia populnea

Common Name: Portia Tree

 

Niu

Cocos nucifera

Common Name: Coconut Palm

 

Niu

Cocos nucifera

Common Name: Coconut Palm

 

‘Ohe Hawai‘i

Schizostachyum glaucifolium

Common Name: Bamboo

 

‘Ōhi‘a ‘Ai

Syzgium malaccense

Common Name: Mountain Apple

 

‘Ōlena

Curcuma longa

Common Name: Turmeric

 

Pia

Tacca leontopetaloides

Common Name: Polynesian Arrowroot

 

‘Uala

Ipomoea batatas

Common Name: Sweet Potato

 

Uhi

Dioscorea alata

Common Name: Yam

 

‘Ulu

Artocarpus altilis

Common Name: Breadfruit

 

Wauke

Broussonetia papyrifera

Common Name: Paper Mulberry

 

 

Resources

http://www.hawaiianencyclopedia.com/polynesian-introduced-plants-i.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canoe_plants

http://wildlifeofhawaii.com/flowers/category/native-status/canoe-plants/

http://thehorticult.com/talking-canoe-plants-and-native-flowers-at-the-national-tropical-botanical-garden-in-kauai/

http://www.hawaii-nation.org/canoe.html

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