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Polynesia - Planters And Their Products

Planters And Their Products



Scientists, who have made a study of the endemic plants, tell us that the first settlers to arrive found the land forested from the mountains down to the seashore. Certain plants had become adapted to the rainforests and the wet windward slopes of the islands. Others were able to grow on the leeward sides where the rainfall was scanty.

Since the islands were thrown up as hot masses of lava they were barren, for a time, of any forms of plant life. The ancestral forms, spores, seeds, roots or living animals, had to come here by some means provided by nature.

It is certain that a limited number of ancestral immigrants found their way here, some by wind or wave, and gave rise to the plants that we call endemic. That is, they changed their forms enough during the long passage of time, that they are different from their ancestors and plants found anywhere else. Of the estimated 2,000 species of seed plants growing here at the time of the Polynesians arrival, all could have developed from 275 ancestors. The time span was so great that if one plant successfully established itself here every 20,000 to 30,000 years, that feat would account for the 275 ancestors mentioned.

Seeds that blew to Hawaii by way of great storms or arrived as stowaways on migratory birds may have sprouted in soil quite alien to their former habitat. These would need to adapt to new conditions or die. New forms developed in the varied environments until, in time, 95 percent of Hawaii's plants (and also birds, insects and snails) were endemic, that, kinds found nowhere else in the world.

Of the 2,000 higher plants flourishing here at the time of the Polynesian colonists' arrival, very few were suitable food plants. They included species which furnished edible roots, stems, leaves or fruits. These edible portions were not very delicious in favour or high in food value. None required cultivation by man since they had been growing here unattended for countless centuries.

The plants brought by the early settlers were used for food, building materials, clothing fibers, cordage, utensils and medicines. The emphasis in this unit is agriculture, the cultivation and harvesting of these plants and the care of the animals. The order in discussing the plants here follows that established by Dr. Handy in "Native Planters of Old Hawaii." The food plants are listed, as far as we know, in order of their importance in the Hawaiian diet.

The plants in the following list are called "Polynesian introductions."

1. Kalo or taro. Nowhere else in the known world was taro cultivated so intensively or skillfully as it was in Hawaii. Throughout the centuries of taro growing here the planters, through plant selection and recognition of mutants, developed more than 300 varieties. They also learned the climatic conditions under which each kind thrived and they ascribed certain useful qualities to each. Some were known to make excellent poi, others did not. Some kinds were grown especially for their large, tender leaves. Medical properties of some sort were a feature of others. A few possessed such flavour and colour that they were reserved exclusively for the chiefly classes.

The planters of wet-land taro, who were also practising engineers, built walls of earth, sometimes reinforced with stone, to enclose each taro pond (lo'i kalo). These varied greatly in size and shape and in some cases covered the rich bottom lands along both sides of a stream. A ditch or watercourse ('auwai) conducted cold water from a spring or from the upper levels of the principal stream to the top-most lo'i kalo. Openings were constructed in the walls of the ponds to allow the water to flow from the upper to the lower ponds and finally into the stream below. By closing the gates the water could be retained in the ponds.

Planting and cultivation methods for taro differed somewhat from one locality to another and with different families. Generally, a new pond, or one that had produced a crop and was to be replanted, was flooded with water, the soil trampled with the feet until the bottom was firm and then the huli were planted. Kamakau wrote that the villagers, upon the invitation of the owner, would come to a newly constructed pond and make a festive occasion of treading the firming the bottom soil. this was done to form a firm bottom layer so that the water would not sink deeply into the soil.

Previous to the treading party the owner would prepare an ample supply of pork, poi, fish and other foods. He filled the pond with water and invited men, women and children who came in their usual brief kapa garments and also bedecked with leis of ferns and other greenery. Even kapu chiefs and chiefesses joined in the gaiety. Each person treaded here and there, stirring up the mud with his feet, dancing, shouting, panting and generally having fun. After a bath in the sea and a refreshing rinse in the stream nearby, the merrymakers feasted. The mud settled to the pond bottom during the night and the taro huli were planted the next day.

The planting material or huli consisted of a half-inch thick slice taken from the very top of the taro root or corm. It was cut off with a knife-like stick made for that purpose or with a sharp shell. Some 6 to 10 inches of the bases of the leaf stems were left on the corm as part of the huli. these stems protruded above the water when planted. Rootlets grew readily from the corm portion into the soft mud. The pond was kept flooded and weeded when necessary. Taro required a year, more or less, to grow to maturity. Some taro was grown especially for the leaves (lau kalo). The tender ones could be cut off and cooked as soon as the plants were well established.

The banks gbetween the taro ponds were planted with bananas, sugar cane, ti and wauke. Kinds of fish grown in the ponds were awa, 'ama'ama, o'opu, and aholehole. Varieties called dryland taro are grown in clearings in the lower forests where the soil is rich and the rainfall sufficient. Upland taro requires more weeding than the plants grown in ponds.

The taro has an important part in Hawaiian mythology and religion. According to one tradition, Haloa, second son of Wakea, became the ancestor of the Hawaiian people. Haloa was named after the taro plant that grew over his brother's grave. King Kalakaua, who traced his lineage to Haloa, used the taro leaf symbol in his crown which he placed on his head at his coronation in 1883. Prayers were off3ered to Kane, to Lono and to the family 'aumakua at certain times during the growth and harvesting of the taro. 

2. 'Uala or Sweet Potato. Ipomoea batatas. This member of the morning glory family produces a vigorous vine which spreads over the ground. From 200 to 400 bushels of tuberous roots may be produced from an acre of sweet potatoes. Plants are propagated from stem cuttings which root readily, never from the tubers. Some varieties of sweet potatoes will produce seed which may be used in plant experiments but never for commercial planting.

Sweet potatoes will grow in areas not suitable for taro such as gardens with poor soil and limited rainfall. Tubers may be ready for harvesting in 3 to 6 months, half of the time required for taro. A favoured method is to plant the stem cuttings, usually 2 or 3, in a mound (pu'e) of earth some 6 to 10 inches high. They may be planted also in ridges or on flat ground. Less labour is required in planting and cultivating sweet potatoes than in taro.

Kamakau wrote of men and women, dressed colourfully in kapu garments and leis, working together planting potatoes on the palawai or rich, moist bottom lands. If there were 20 or more men they were all dressed alike. They formed a line the width of the field and worked in perfect unison. They thrust their 'o'o or digging sticks into the soil a first, second and third time, their arms rising and falling together, the women followed dropping two slips into each planting hole. Sweet potato culture was the only major agricultural venture which involved women. 

After a few months some of the sweet potato tubers were mature. The planter dug into the mound or the soil and pulled out the largest ones, leaving the smaller ones in the ground. In due time the entire crop of tubers was removed but some of the vines were left growing to furnish cuttings to propagate the next plants.

The sweet potato is the only food plant in Polynesia said to be of south American origin. After much study and discussion the details of the introduction of the sweet potato into the islands of Polynesia are still unclear. The sweet potato is not considered a sacred plant as is the taro. However Kanepua'a (man hog) was considered god of the sweet potato, perhaps because he dug into the ground with his snout. Prayers were offered to the gods for rain, sunshine and favorable growing and harvesting conditions.

3. 'Ulu or breadfruit. Artocarpus altilis. This attractive tree grows from 30 to 60 feet high with a trunk up to 2 feet in diameter. It is propagated from shoots sprouting up from roots that have grown some distance from the main trunk. The roots must be severed on on each side of the shoot or sucker and a ball of earth formed around it. This new plant must be moved with great care to the hole into which it is to be planted. If pulled out of the earth and the roots freed from soil it will die. Breadfruit trees thrive in dark or red soil, never in sand or cinders.

In 1788 Captain William Bligh attempted to transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the Caribbean. The mutiny on his ship, the Bounty, caused the plants to be lost. In 1792, on a second expedition, Bligh succeeded in taking 1,200 plants from Tahiti to Jamaica. They have spread throughout the Caribbean area.

Until recently Hawaii has grown but a single variety of breadfruit. There are about 50 in the Society Islands, fewer in Samoa but 200 varieties in the Marquesas Islands. In Hawaii the Puna area trees may bear 8 months of the year beginning in May. Elsewhere here the season is usually May through September. Breadfruit trees were once more common than they are now in Hawaii.

The light-coloured wood of the breadfruit is used to make surfbo pounding boards, and dance drums (pahu hula). Milky sap (pilali 'ulu) from the tree furnishes glue for fastening gourds together in the ipu heke and for cauldking seams in canoes. The leaf sheath is used as fine sandpaper in polishing wooden bowls and kukui nuts. The gum or birdlime is used to trap and hold feather birds.

4. Mai'a or bananas. Musa spp. The banana plant (mai'a) is a succulent herb which grows from underground root stalks (mole) to heights of 20 feet or more in some varieties. Each plant bears one stalk of fruit ('ahui), then it is cut down or dies. More plants grow from root suckers (pohuli) that come up from around the base of the original plant. Bananas grow best in moist areas protected from the wind.

Banana fruits (hua mai'a) are a nutritious food. Sibers (ha mai'a) are a nutritious food. 'Fibers (ha mai'a) are obtained from the trunk (pu mai'a). At least 50 varieties were known to the Hawaiian planters (mahi'ai). Except in time of famine all but three kinds were reserved as food for the men. Those which women could eat were iholena, popo'ulu and kaualau.

Probably but a few varieties were brought to Hawaii by the early colonists. the planters gave careful attention to the banana plants and fruit and selected for special propagation any that wee unusual. In this way new varieties were detected and propagated. there is one Hawaiian strain growing in the wild and produces viable seed. By cross-pollinating these, new varieties may have been produced.

The gardeners planted bananas around their dwellings, on the banks between the wet taro ponds, in taro patches no longer flooded and used, and in valleys and gulches protected from the winds. They were not grown in plantations. In areas of considerable rainfall, root suckers were planted any time of the year. In drier areas they were started at the beginning of the rainy season. Hawaiian calendars give the favourable days and moon phase which are considered very important in planting bananas. Noon is the time of day favoured by most gardeners for planting the suckers although a few favour the evening or at night when the moon is directly overhead. Most of the bananas grown for the market today are introduced varieties.

In some ceremonies pu mai'a is a substitute for the human body. In spear practice, the wooden spear (ihe) is hurled into an upright pu mai'a.

5. Niu or coconut. Cocos nucifera. The coconut tree (la'au niu) probably has more uses than any other plant known to man. The trunk is used for food bowls and for hula and temple drums; also for small canoes (lolo niu). Children make toy canoes from the bloom sheath and call them wa'a lolo niu. the heavy base or butt end of the frond (ku'au) is used to pound and firm taro pond walls. when used as a seat to slide down hillside, this curved base of the frond is called po'olau. Leaflets are plaited into fans (pe'ahi) and game balls (kinipopo). Midribs (ni'au) are used for brooms (pulumi ni'au), shrimp snares (pulu'aha), needles for lei making, and a simple game (panapana ra'au). The husk covering the nut is used for fuel. Fibers from the husk (pulu niu) are braided or twisted into cordage ('aha).

A sprouted nut was planted in the hole in which an octopus (he'e) had been placed. The octopus, it was believed, gave the tree roots a firm grip. Since Hawaii is on the northern fringe of the coconut belt, the trees did not flourish here to the extent that they did and still do in the islands nearer the equator.

6. Uhi or yam. Dioscorea alata. The uhi is not related to and must not be confused with the sweet potato, which may also be called a yam. Uhi are panted from pieces of the tuber which bear sprouts. Moist gulches and lower areas in the rain forest are favourable for the growth of yam vines. The vines must have support and this usually supplied by trees. When grown in gardens, stakes are used to support the vines.

The vines grow during the summer, and wither down in December, but the tubers in the ground continue to fill out. When new shoots appear at the beginning of the rainy season, the tubers are dug. They are cooked in the imu and eaten while hot. The flesh is too meaty to make poi.

Two other tuber-bearing vines, belonging to the same family as the uhi, were also called yams. They were not cultivated and were rarely for food. Hoi, Dioscorea bulbifera, bore aerial tubers along the stem of the vine. These kukui-nut size tubers were poisonous but after sufficient washing could be eaten. Pi'a Dioscorea pentaphylla, bore small, edible underground tubers which were cooked and eaten while warm. Cold pi'a was pig food. This yam is not to be confused with pia or arrowroot.

7. Pia or arrowroot. Tacca leontopetalcides. tubers, from which pia grows, are planted on the edge of moist woods or in areas suitable for upland taro. The plants grow without cultivation except for occasional weeding. The tubers mature in the summer, the leaves turn yellow and wither, indicating that the tubers are ready to harvest.

The leaves sprout on slender stems from the underground tubers and reach 2 to 3 feet in height. The much-divided leaves resemble somewhat those of the papaia. Greenish, fringy flowers appear on yard-long stems but no viable seeds result. Pia is found in some home gardens at this time but is not grown commercially.

8. Ko or sugar cane. Saccharium officianarum. Sugar cane is a giant grass with stalks 15 to 20 feet and sometimes taller. Some 40 varieties have developed through the years that it has been cultivated.

Cane was planted in clumps where there was good soil and moisture. It was a favoured and useful food plant around dwellings. Cane thrived along the banks of taro ponds. It served as hedges between fields and, when grown in thick clumps, was a good wind break. The upper portion of a mixture cane stalk was cut into sections and planted 6 to 8 8inches deep. The stalks were laid flat in the hole and the plants sprouted from an eye or bud at each node. In the lowlands the cane matured in 12 to 15 months but at higher elevations 18 to 24 months were required.

9. 'Awa. South Polynesia, Kava. Piper methysticum. Awa i a decorative shrub reaching 8 or more feet in height. The large, heart-shaped leaves emerge from stems which are swollen at the joints. The flowers are inconspicuous spikes.

The 'awa plant must have an abundance of moisture and prefers partial sun. Portions of the 'awa which bore buds were planted in suitable moist areas. The plants grew from two to three years before they were large enough to use. 'Awa or kava is a ceremonial drink today in Samoa and other Pacific Islands but has fallen into disuse in Hawaii. The root of the mature plant contains a narcotic or tranquilizing substance which is soluble in water. Portions of the root are chewed or pounded, placed in a wooden bowl (kanoa) and water added. After mixing the 'awa and water, the fibrous residue is removed with a strainer made from the stems of the 'ahu'awa sedge. 'Awa is drunk from cups ('apu'awa) made from coconut shells cut lengthwise.

As a tranquilizer 'awa reduces or eliminates body pains, and is helpful for insomnia and anxiety. When drunk to excess over periods of time it causes scaliness of the skin and reddening of the eyes. It is ceremonial drink among the chiefs, a pleasant relaxing potion for farmers and fishermen, and an offering to the gods and the 'aumakua.

10. Hala or screwpine. Pandanus odoratissimus. The hala or pu hala, planted by the Hawaiians near their houses, spread naturally from seeds to areas along the coast, lower valleys and the uplands where rainfall was sufficient. Nearly all parts of the pandanus plant were used for some purpose in the old culture.

The male tree, hala hinano, bears the staminate flowering spike with powdery pollen and white bracts. The woody trunk (kumu hala) of the male is used for house posts and occasionally for bowls. The female tree, hala hua, usually produces a number of fruit at a time. They resemble pineapples as they are composed of 50 or more wedge shaped drupes or seeds. These sprout readily when they fall to the moist earth. The wood of the female tree is soft.

Aerial prop roots grow from various parts of the trunk to the ground giving the appearance of a tree on stilts. The leaves (lau hala) are plaited (ulana) into mats (moena), baskets (hinai'i), fans (pe'ahi) pillows (uluna), sandals (kama'a) and canoe sails (la). The preparation of the lau hala and the ulana is women's work. where pili is scarce and lau hala abundant the men thatch houses with the leaves.

11. 'Ohe or bamboo. 'Ohe Hawaii (Hawaiian bamboo) Bambusa vulgaris. 'Ohe Kahiki (Bamboo from Tahiti) Schizostachyum glaucifolium. Bamboo sprouts are planted in moist areas where the plants grow to heights of 15 to 50 feet according to the variety.

The hollow stems, reaching four inches in diameter, are used for a variety of purpose. Nodes or joints divide the stems into sections. Long bamboo poles are used for fishing rods and for thatching rafters in the house framework. Short sections are made into the musical instruments: split rattles (pu'ili), nose flutes ('ohe hano ihu) and stamping pipes (ka'eke'ekelpahupahu).

Strips of bamboo are cut into kapa stamps ('ohe kapala) and liners (lapa). A silver of green bamboo makes a very sharp knife (pahi). Most of the ornamental bamboo growing in Hawaii today has been introduced, largely from Asia.

12. Wauke or Paper Mulberry. Broussonetia papyrifera. Wauke was planted in patches throughout the islands where there was suitable soil, moisture, and protection from winds. Rich soil and considerable moisture are preferred. Wauke is propagated from the shoots that spring up from the roots of established plants or it is grown from cuttings. So many shoots spring up from the roots of the older plants that the wauke patch extends itself in all directions.

As the saplings grew, the planter picked off the side branches (lala) while they were buds. This resulted in in a straight stalk which could be striped into bark without holes along its length. Above the 8 or 9 foot level the branches and leaves were allowed to grow. The walls of some taro ponds and the banks of streams were planted with wauke.

Some wauke is grown in home gardens today to provide the fibers for demonstrating the craft of kapa making. The bast or inner fibers of the wauke made the softest, finest and most durable kapa known. when not harvested for its bark at 6 to 8 feet, it will become a tree up to 30 feet tall.

13. Ipu or goruds. Lagenaria siceraria. Hawaiians grew a larger variety and a greater number of gourds than did any of their fellow Pacific Islanders. The vines, grown from seeds, were carefully t4ended, and the gourds picked when mature. The gourds were carefully opened, cleaned and processed into a variety of containers. The largest gourds (ipu nui) were provided with lids and used to store kapa, feather regalia and other possessions.

When provided with carrying nets (koko) they were swung from shoulder poles ('auamolmamaka) and carried from place to place by bearers (mea lawe). On sea voyages the gourd containers would float should the canoe overturn,

Fishermen carried their lines and hooks in gourds. Squat gourds formed rat guards by placing hem on the posts of the offering platforms (lele) in certain heiau. Captain cook's artist sketched paddlers wearing helmet-like masks of gourds. Most gourds for holding food and water were used with their natural colour, but some were stained and decorated with geometric designs (pawehe). At least three introduced insects attack the gourd vines today with the result that gourd culture on a large scale has been discontinued.

14. Ki or ti. Cordyline terminalis. Ti is a decorative and highly useful plant. It is grown especially for its shiny green leaves called la'i, a contraction of lau (leaf) and ki. It is easily propagated by cuttings from the stem. Ti thrives in deep, rich soil with an abundance of moisture.

Only the green ti is a Polynesian introduction. It grew in the villages, near the taro ponds and in the lower forests. Although the green ti blooms it does not produce viable seeds. Planting material must be carried from place to place by man. It doe not require any form of cultivation.

Ki planted around dwellings is thought to ward off evil. Leaves worn around the neck and as wristlets and anklets are both decorative and serve as charms. A priest (kahuna) carried a stalk of ki into battle and to use as a flag of truce.

La'i are tied to netting ('upena) to make rain capes for bird catchers. Shelters in the forests are often thatched with la'i as are those in lowland areas where pili does not grow. Structures in the heiau sacred to god Lono are thatched with la'i. Sandals (kama'a la'i) are braided from ti leaves to protect the feet when crossing rough lava. La'i are tied to the upper edge of a hukilau net to frighten the fish into staying in the net. A tuft of la'i is ti3ed to an octopus lure (tuhe'e) to conceal the sharp bone hook.

Many varieties of coloured ti have been introduced. Gardeners cross-pollinate the blossoms on these and from the resulting seeds more colourful plants have been produced. We are cautioned that the coloured ti plants do not have the properties to ward off evil.

15. Olona. Touchardia latifolia. Olona plants furnish the strongest fibers which man has been able to grow and make into cordage. This rain forest shrub is the plant which furnishes fibers to make the netting for feather garments. The people found many uses for the strong olona fibers.

Olona cordage is used to make fishlines (aho), fish nets with large mesh ('upena), fine meshed nets (nae) onto which the feathers are tied in cloaks ('ahu'ula), capes (kipuka) and helmets (mahiole). Olona cords are knotted to make the carrying nets (koko) for food containers. Ti leaves are tied to an olona net to make a rain cape ('ahu la'i). In warfare the cords in both the tripping weapon (pikoi) and the strangling cord (ka'ane) are of olona. Olona cords are the core of foundation strand of the feather lei (lei hulu manu) and from the tying cords for the lei niho palaoa. Olona mesh holds the dog teeth in the dance leglet (kupe'e niho'ilio). No olona is processed commercially today.

16. 'Olena or turmeric. Curcuma domestica. This semi-wild member of the ginger family is grown for its spicy yellow underground stems which are usually called roots. Leaf stalks come up in the spring, yellow and white flowers bloom, then the plant dies down in the autumn. The pounded root is mixed with sea water in a calabash ('umeke la'au) and the solution sprinkled (pi kai) in places where there is a need to remove the restrictions of a kapu.

Juice from the crushed root is dropped into the ear to relieve earache, and into the nostrils and sinuses for sinusitis. Juice from the raw root gives a yellow dye, and from the cooked or steamed root a deep orange kapa dye. 'Olena is grown today in gardens where it will receive sufficient moisture and preferably some shade. It continues to be used as a medicine by the older people. Students use the yellow 'olena juice as a dye in kapa making projects. 

17. Kukui or Candlenut tree. Aleurites moluccana. The kukui trees, which grow to heights of 80 feet, form dense growths in the lower mountains and in the wet gulches. The silvery green of the mature leaves can be seen for many miles. The leaves on kukui seedlings are large and bright green.

The wood is used sparingly as it is soft and decays easily. The inner bark is pounded, water added, making a stain for fish nets and a reddish-brown dye for kapa. The gum (pilali kukui) exuding from the trunk is chewed by children and also dissolved in water for a resin-like coating on kapa. Children with thrush or coated tongue ('ea) eat kukui blossoms mixed with cooked sweet potatoes ('uala) as a treatment for this ailment. The sap exuding from a green nut at the point where it is broken from the stem is rubbed over the white coated area in the mouth of a child suffering from 'ea. Sap from a nut or leaf petiole, applied to punctures and wounds on the skin, forms a seal which hastens healing.

The hard shells of the nuts are polished and strung into leis. The flesh of the raw nut is a strong cathartic. The flesh of roasted nuts is pounded and salt is added to make the relish 'inamona. roasted kernels, chewed by fishermen on the reef or in canoes, are blown out over the small waves and ripples to form a film on the surface which increases visibility under the water.

Oil extracted from roasted nuts is burned, using one or more kapa wicks, in the stone lamps (poho kukui). Roasted kernels, strung on a coconut midrib (ni'au) or bamboo splinter, form a type of candle (koi, kali, or ihoiho kukui). A torch (lamaku) consisting of a bamboo handle and a bundle of koi kukui enclosed in a sheaf of ti leaves provides light for night activities.

Soot (pa'u) collected from burning roasted nuts gives a black dye for tattooing, for painting the hulls of canoes, and for dyeing. If a family wanted a kukui tree near the house it was the belief that a stranger should plant it in the rear of the dwelling. One of the representations of the kukui tree was the human spirit. A kukui growing in front of the dwelling suggested that the homeowner was exposing his soul to all who passed by. The silver glow emanating from this tree in the rear seemed to give the passing traveller or a visitor entering the garden modest glimpses of the homeowner's spirit. 

18. Kou. Cordia subcordata. Kou is a quick-growing cultivated tree which may reach 30 feet in height. It provides shade around the houses (hale), especially in the warm, leeward areas. The beauty of the wood and the ease with which it can be cut makes kou the most highly prized of all woods for food bowls ('umeke kou) and planters (pa kou).

Images were carved from kou. A brown dye is obtained from the leaves. Leis are strung from the orange flowers. Read the legend to learn why no one wears a kou flower lei in one part of the 'Ewa district on O'ahu.

19. Milo. Thespesia populnea. The milo is planted by man to shade his houses along the warm sunny beaches. The buoyant seeds fall and are carried by sea currents to other seaside locations. Milo is not found in the forests.

The trees reach heights of 40 feet with a trunk of 2 feet in diameter. The wood is rich brown with attractive grain and capable of taking a high polish. The wood is without unpleasant tasting sap so is made into food bowls ('umeke milo) and platters (pa milo). Milo is second in popularity to kou as a wood for food containers. Bell-shaped yellow flowers brighten the tree most of the year. The seeds are taken as a laxative. The young leaves may be eaten raw or cooked, perhaps only in time of necessity.

20. Kamani. Calophllum inophyllum. the red-brown wood from the trunk of the tree is made into food bowls ('umeke kamani) and trays (pa kamani). There is no disagreeable sap in this wood. The kernels are removed from the spherical seeds, holes pierced in the shell and a yard long cord attached. The nut is whirled by the string producing a whistling sound (oeoe). Oil extracted from the nut is useful in massage (lomi) and for oiling or waterproofing kapa. The small white flowers are prized for their odor. Kamani is propagated by seed.

21. Hau. Hibiscus tilaceus. The hau is a spreading tree of the lowlands with tough, light-weight wood. Plantings are made from stem cuttings. Slightly curved branches are used for outrigger booms ('iako) and for canoe floats (ama) if the lighter wiliwili wood is not available. Smaller branches were used for adze handles ('au ko'i), for massage sticks (la'au lomi), fire plows ('aunaki, 'aulima), light-weight spears (ihe) for battle practice, fish net floats (pikoi) and kite (lupe) framework.

The bark ('ili hau) is twisted or braided into cordage. Although inferior to the strong fibers of the 'alona and to coconut-fiber sennit ('aha), it has a number of uses. The slimy sap under the bark and the base of the flowers is a mild laxative.

22. 'Ohi'a 'ai or Mountain apple. Eugenia malaccensis. This tree grows in the moist windward valleys to heights of 50 feet or more. It also thrives in parks and gardens near sea level where gardeners plant and care for it. The seeds may be carried to new areas in the valleys by pigs, rats or people who gather and eat juicy, crisp fruit and discard the seeds. The wood was used for houseposts, rafters and enclosures about the temples. The bark yielded a brown dye and an stringent medicine.

The Hawaiians recognized plant relationships as did the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus in 1773 when he devised the plan of giving each plant and animal two names. Earlier than this the Hawaiians named three related plants, the 'ohi'a'ai, edible 'ohi'a, the 'ohi'alehua, the lei flower of Hawaii island, and 'ohi'a ha, a tree with edible red fruit about one-third inch in diameter.

This tree is also called 'ohi'a leo, a poetic way of saying that a person could talk (leo) while picking the fruit. Its cousin, 'ohi'a lehua, was called 'ohi'a hamau or the silent (humau) one for it was kapu to talk while snaring feather birds among the lehua blossoms.

Thee are a number of additional plants of some importance in Hawaiian life. Most of these grew wild and required no care from the planter. A large number of fruits and vegetables have been introduced into Hawaii. Some have been growing here so long that many people assume that they are native plants. Among these plants are the citrus fruit, coffee, guavas, lichee, macadamia nuts, mangoes, melons, papaya, passion fruit, pineapple and vegetables of many kinds.

Also introduced are non-Hawaiian varieties of plants which were established here prior to European times. Some of them are bamboo, bananas, berries, breadfruit, coconuts, sugar cane, sweet potatoes and taro.

Domesticated Animals

1. Pua'a or pig, hog. Sus scrofa. Pigs were raised in great numbers for good and for religious and ceremonial purposes. They were free to roam about the village and its environs. Stone walls (pa pohaku) and picket fences (pa la'au) kept these animals from areas where they were not wanted. Mature hogs were penned in stone-walled enclosures and fattened. They were fed cooked taro (kalo), sweet potatoes ('uala), yams (hoi), bananas (mai'a) and breadfruit ('ulu). Some of these foods were the scraps and peelings not suitable for human consumption.

Some pigs escaped to the uplands and fed on kului nuts, mountain apples ('ohi'a'ai) in season and the trunks of several kinds of ferns. From time to time these wild pigs came down from the forests and raided the gardens, particularly the sweet potato plots. In the wild the old boars developed long, curved ivory-like tusks (ku'i pua'a).

Some women and children took piglets as pets. Mature hogs weighted 50 to 60 pounds. They had lean bodies with long heads and small erect ears. The colour of bristles were all black (hiwa), striped (olomea), spotted (puko'a) and combinations of these. some pigs were hairless (hulu 'ole). Ornamental and useful articles were fashioned from bones and tusks of the pig.

A small bunch of stuff black and white bristles formed the hackle (hulu) of the bonito (aku) fish hook. Shafts of the leg bones were shaped into fish hooks. The most ornamental of the products from hogs were the pairs of long, curved ivory-like boars' tusks (ku'i pua'a) or (niho pua'a). Bracelentws (kupe'e ho'okalakala) were made by drilling matching holes in two places in from 19 to 24 full length tusks, each 4 or 5 inches long. These holes accommodated the olona cords which held the tusks lengthwise around the wrists. Each man might wear a pair of them while dancing. Bracelets were also made by rimming the ends from the tusks to form wristlets about two inches wide.

Pigs were credited with the ability to recognize persons of rank (ali'i) who were living in exile and concealing their identity. These pigs were called "pua'a 'imi ali'i." Pigs were also thought to be able to identify a sorcerer who had put a person to death.

Kampua'a, the pig demigod or kupua, was credited with many accomplishments. He appeared as a handsome man, a pig or the fish humuhumunukunukuapua'a. He also appeared as any one of the following plants: the 'ama'u or hapu'u ferns, hala, kukaepua'a grass, taro leaf (lau kalo), kukui, olomea and 'uhaloa.

2. 'Ilio or dog. Canis familiaris. Ilio were raised in great numbers for food. They were offered to deities as gifts and to chiefs in form of gifts and taxes. Craftsmen made useful and ornamental articles from dog teeth, bones, and hair. Ilio were small animals with long bodies, short legs, upstanding ears, and prominent eyes. In colour the hair was all black; all white; dark, light, or reddish brown; or brindled. Ilio always lived around the villages; often they were kept in pens where they were fed and fattened on poi, cookded sweet potatoes ('uala) and broth (kai) made from cooked fish or pig. There was no suitable food for them in the wild.

Although they lived close to man the dogs were not really companions and they were not watch dogs. Some women suckled favourite puppies at their breasts and children took puppies as pets. These pets were casually used for human food when needed.

A few parts of the body of the dog were made into decorative objects. No use was made of the skin or pelt. However, a tuft of hair or a small piece of skin with the hair attached decorated the tip of the rod (maile) which the scorekeeper (helu'ai) used in directing the games no'a and puhenehene.

Dog teeth (niho 'ilio) in numbers to a thousand were tied to 3each leg ornament (kupe'e niho'ilio) worn by hula dancers. In making these the four canine teeth were removed from the dogs' jaws after they had been cooked and served at a meal. A hole was drilled through the root of each of the teeth, an olona cord was strung through them and the teeth tied to a sturdy olona net-like legging.

Canine teeth decorate the upper and lower jaws of the open mouths of the feather images (kuka'ilimoku). From 74 to 144 teeth ornament the known images. Dogs' teeth filed to a uniform size, pierced with two holes in each and strung on two olona cords made attractive bracelets (kupe'e). Some 35 to 50 tee4th were needed for a bracelet.

Of more practical use were the fishhooks and piercing instruments shaped from dog bones and teeth. Small one-0piece fishhooks were formed from the leg bones. Small unbarbed hooks were fashioned from molar teeth including the roots. Sharp canine teeth formed the points in some two-piece hooks. Needles (kai humuhumu) and awis (kai iwi) for piercing kapa were made from the leg bones of dogs.

There are numerous references to dogs in myths and legends. Some mythical dogs assumed the shape of humans, ancestral guardians (kupua), water spirits (mo'o) and clouds. Petroglyphs may be attempts to immortalize some of these. Read about these legendary dogs: Ku'ilioloa, Pa'e, Ka'upe, Hi-maka, and Puapua-lenalena.

3. Moa or chicken. Gallus gallus gallus. The Polynesian chicken of Malaysian origin, was already domesticated when brought into the islands of the Pacific. The wild chickens found in Hawaii or elsewhere were those that had reverted to the wild.

The domesticated chickens ran about the village and environs and largely foraged for themselves. They were fed scraps of food such as the inner skin scraped from the taro and the gratings from the coconut after the cream (wai o ka niu) had been expressed. Wild chickens found sufficient food in the lower forests to live a healthy life. The cocks were heard crowing lustily in the early morning.

Chickens were of important as offerings to temple gods and to family gods ('aumakua). The roosters were highly prized in the sport of cock fighting (ho'ohakamoa). The shiny black tail feathers of the rooster were used in kahili. These and selected body feathers covered coarse nets in the early form of trapezoid-shaped capes (kipuka) and also covered kapa disks to form the head (heke) of the gourd rattle ('uli'uli). 

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