A Place to Record Agricultural Knowledge

Cover Image: Masthead of Ka Hoku o Hawaii published on August 8, 1918

Aloha Nūhou Monday! 

Dear Reader, newspapers were a place where information was requested and a place where information was supplied. Much of this knowledge asked for and given dealt with traditional agricultural practices.  

In the following article, Z. P. Kalokuokamaile describes in the pages of Ka Hoku o Hawaii the kalo varieties known in Kona on the island of Hawaiʻi, “so that the younger generations may know.” The translation was done by Mary Kawena Pukui and is found in HEN (Hawaiian Ethnographic Notes): Agriculture, pages 50–57. 

Image: Papa Inoa o na Kalo Like Ole a me ko Lakou Ano,” Ka Hoku o HawaiiAugust 8, 1918, p. 4.

List of taros and their descriptions.

The Hoku o Hawaii, Greetings: Because the editor had asked my favor to mention the number of taros I know and to describe them, I am going to do [this] so that the younger generation may know the varieties and names of the taros.

These are the number of taros known in Kona in the olden days and some of them are no longer cultivated because they are slow in maturing. Those of this latter time cultivate the taro that mature quickly. Most of the taros became extinct and are no longer seen. Here are the kinds of taros here in Kona in olden times.

ʻApuwai, ʻĀpiʻi, ʻĀweu, ʻApowale, ʻAkilolo, ʻElepaio, Ipuolono, ʻIeʻie, ʻOhe Keʻokeʻo, ʻOhe ʻUlaʻula, ʻOʻopukai, ʻOwene [ʻOene], ʻOwāʻowā [ʻOāʻoā], ʻŌpelu, ʻŌhiʻa, Uahiapele, ʻUlaʻula, Uauapiko, Ulanui, Uia, Haʻakea, Helemauna, Hinapū, Kāī Maoli, Kāī Koi, Kuloa, Kūmū, Kūkaeʻiole, Kūʻoho, Kahaluʻu, Koaʻe, Lehua, Lehuakūikawao, Launui, Lauloa Keʻokeʻo, Lauloa Hāʻula, Lauloa ʻEleʻele, Lauloa poni, Līlīlehua, Lola, Māhāhā, Mākoko, Mākohi, Manini, Manauea, Makaʻōpio, Mana ʻUlu, Mana Keʻokeʻo, Mana ʻEleʻele, Nohu, Naioea, Nina, Nao, Paʻakai Maoli, Paʻakai Launui, Paua, Palaʻiʻi, Palakea, Pāpākolekoaʻe, Papapueo, Piko, Piʻialiʻi, Wewehiwa, Wolu.

These are all the taros I know, almost sixty varieties. If I differ from someone else, let him tell what he knows.

ʻApuwai—The stalk of this taro is light colored and its leaf turns up like a cup and could hold water.

ʻĀpiʻi—This also has a light colored stalk like that of the lehua but it could be distinguished by its ugly, crimpled leaf.

ʻĀweu—This is related to all reddish taros, lauloa taros and light stalked taros, for this kind of taro grows in swampy lands in the forest and is not killed by the sun. If it is planted in a dry patch and the soil of the patch is red, then the taro tops will grow. There are no other taro that equals this one in growth.

ʻApowale—The stalk of this taro is dark like the ʻowāʻowā and white where the top joins the corm.

ʻAkilolo—The stalk of this taro is like that of the pāpākolekoaʻe and it is streaked with red, like the ʻakilolo fish where the top joins the corm.

ʻElepaio—The stalk of this taro is light, but you could recognize it by the white dots on its leaves.

Ipu-o-Lono—The stalk is light like that of the lehua. The leaves are broad and flat but is much shorter than the lehua.

ʻIeʻie—top of this taro is red like the kūmū, but it is dark where it joins the corm. It could be distinguished by its blossom because it is red like the blossom of the ʻieʻie, thus differing from other taros.

ʻOhe Keʻokeʻo—The stalk of this taro is light colored and is dark right above the corm. This taro is familiar to all.

ʻOhe ʻUlaʻula—This kind of taro has a red stalk and grows like the ʻohe keʻokeʻo and the corm is exactly alike, white flesh.

ʻOʻopukai—The stalk of this taro is like that of the mana ʻulu in reddishness and its taro is fragrant.

ʻOwene—This pertains to all varieties of taros. These are the taros that are too small to peel with an ʻopihi shell when cooked. While they are new [raw] they are scraped with an ʻopihi shell and wrapped in ti leaves.

ʻŌpelu—No longer seen.

Uahi-a-Pele—This has a black stalk like that of the naioea. The stalk rim is reddish and the leaves are shiny like volcanic smoke. They resemble the introduced taros that are planted to beautify the door steps.

Ulanui—Not seen anymore.

Uia—The stalk of this taro is streaked exactly like that of the manini and its taro is fragrant.

ʻUlaʻula—The stalk is all red hence its name.

Uauapiko—This has a light colored stalk. Under the “piko” where the stem joins the leaf there are small dots.

Haʻakea—The stalk of the taro is like the big leaved paʻakai.

Helemauna—The stalk of this taro is exactly like the ʻapowale in darkness and is red all around where the stalk joins the corm.

Hinapū—Not seen anymore.

Hāpuʻupuʻu maoli—The stalk is like that of the palaʻiʻi but it grows larger than the palaii.

Hāpuʻupuʻu launui—The stalk is like that of the hāpuʻu maoli but it grows larger, the taros of both are alike, white fleshed. When overripe it is stringy.

Hinale—Not seen anymore.

Kai maoli—This has a reddish stalk like that of the ʻohe hāʻula. The taro is fragrant.

Kāī koi—This has a white stalk. It is exactly like the lehuakūikawao in appearance and it is often mistaken for lehuakūikawao. It could be distinguished by its fragrance and it is easily recognized by those who are familiar with it.

Kuloa—It has a stalk like that of the palaʻiʻi and it is red where it joins the corm.

Kūmū—This has a bright red stalk and is beautiful in appearance.

Kūkaeʻiole—Not seen anymore.

Kūʻoho—This taro stalk is like that of hāpuʻupuʻu but is smaller in growth. It is not planted much.

Kahaluʻu—This taro has a stalk like that of the palaʻiʻi but it is larger in growth. The taro is the same.

Koaʻe—Not seen anymore.

Lehua—This has a light colored stalk and it grows as large as the lauloa.

Lehua-kū-i-ka-wao—The stalk is like that of the kāī koi, light green but not fragrant like the kāī koi.

Launui—This taro has a stalk like that of the ʻapowale, but its leaves are larger, hence its name of “big leaved.”

Lauloa keʻokeʻo—The stalk is like that of the palaʻii and it is red where it joins the corm.

Lauloa hāʻula—The stalk is reddish like that of the palakea.

Lauloa ʻeleʻele—The stalk is like that of the naioea.

Lauloa poni—The stalk is like that of the uahiapele.

Līlīlehua—The stalk of this taro is like that of the ʻulaʻula but dark where it joins the corm.

Lola—The stalk of this taro is like that of the lehua but is distinguished by the dropping of its leaves, as though parched by the sun.

Māhāhā—The stalk of this is like that of the palaʻiʻi and it sends out many offshoots like the ʻoāʻoā.

Mākoko—The stalk of this is like the ʻohe ʻula and the poi made of this taro is redder than that of any other varieties.

Mākohi—The stalk of this is like that of the kahaluʻu and the piʻialiʻi but the leaves are larger. The redness of the poi of both varieties are the same.

Manini—The stalk of this taro is like that of the uia. The uia is more striped but this has some white stripes. It does not grow as tall as the uia or any other taro.

Manauea—Not seen any more.

Makaʻōpio—The stalk is like that of the ʻapowale and the rim of the stalk is red.

Mana ʻulu—The stalk is like that of the ʻoʻopukai; its stalk is reddish and its taro ia as yellow as a ripe breadfruit.

Mana keʻokeʻo—One could not fail to recognize this variety because the taro branches out at the corm.

Mana ʻeleʻele—This is like the mana keʻokeʻo in that its corm branches out.

Nohu—Not seen anymore.

Nao—Not seen anymore.

Paʻakai maoli—The stalk of this is like that of the piʻialiʻi, it is short and does not grow tall.

Paʻakai launui—The stalk of this taro is like that of the paʻakai maoli.

Paua—Not seen anymore.

Palaʻiʻi—This taro is familiar to everyone.

Palakea—This variety is familiar to all.

Pāpākolekoaʻe—The stalk is striped with red in the same way as the manini is striped.

Piko—Not seen anymore.

Piʻialiʻi—The stalk of this taro is like that of the kahaluʻu.

Wehiwehi—The stalk is like that of the helemauna.

Wolu—Not seen anymore.

These are all the varieties that I know. In my taro patches are from twenty to thirty different varieties of taros. My regards to the printers and endless aloha for the editor.

Z. P. Kalokuokamaile.

Nāpoʻopoʻo, July 18, 1918.

(Ka Hoku o Hawaii, August 8, 1918, p. 4)

Image: P. Kawaikaumaiikamakaokaopua Kalokuokamaile of Nāpoʻopoʻo, South Kona, Hawaiʻi. May 1924. Photo by Kenneth Pike Emory, Bishop Museum Archives. SP 10479. 

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact Archives@BishopMuseum.org 

Image: Taro fields on the grounds of Joseph Nāwahī’s residence; Hilo, Hawaiʻi. ca. 1880. Photo by H. L. Chase, Bishop Museum Archives. SP 77391. 

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact Archives@BishopMuseum.org 

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