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Hawaiian Woods.

The format for this page is as follows. The top line of each entry will contain the common name, hawaiian name and botanical name, followed by a description of the tree and/or wood. Where possible, an example of the wood will also be shown.

Common NameHawaiian NameBotanical Name
Description and a picture will be shown below the identification line.
Avocado
Banyan
Blue Gum
Candlenut [Kukui]
Cook Pine
False Kamani
Formosan Koa
Guava [Kauwa]
Hau
Ironwood [Paina]
Kamani [Kamani]
Kiawe [Kiawe]
Koa [Koa]
Kou [Kou]
Lemon Gum Eucalyptus
Lychee
Macadamia Nut
Mango [Manako]
Milo
Monkeypod
Norfolk Pine
Ohia / Lehua
Painted Gum
Paperbark
Pheasantwood, or Golden Shower Tree
Primavera, or Gold Tree
Robusta Eucalyptus
Saligna Eucalyptus
Silk Oak [Oka kilika]
Sugi
Toon
Tropical Ash
 
Avocado  
Avocado wood comes from trees that actually produce the edible friut you might buy in your local store. Generally, the Avocado species grown on the Hawaiian Islands usually differ from the typical Hass (the bumpy one, often black in color) or xxxx (the smooth skinned green one. In Hawaii, one of the most popular Avocado fruits is called a Butter Avocado because many people like it's near buttery flavor and smooth texture. Most of the Avocado wood used in turning comes from trees that are damaged or uprooted during storms, or have to be removed due to building restrictions.

The wood is a pinkish color, with a varying grain, and can show some very interesting patterns, especially in a piece containing burl. [back to the top of the page]
 
Banyan  
Most people recognize the Banyan by the profusion of secondary trunks connecting to the root system. It is a pale white wood with moderate grain structure. [back to the top of the page]
 
Blue Gum  
Blue Gum is a variety of Eucalyptus. [back to the top of the page]
 
CandlenutKukui 
Tourists will be quick to recognize the leis made from the nut of this tree. It is called candlenut tree because the nut is so high in oil it was set on fire and used like a candle by Hawaiian natives. [back to the top of the page]
 
Cook Pine  
A relative of the more common Norfolk Pine, Cook pine can usually be differentiated by examining the center of the tree and the location of the limbs. Generally, Cook Pines have a darker center than Norfolk Pines, and their branches grow at relatively random locations around the trunk. The branches of Norfolk Pines grow in fairly even rows (or circles) rather evenly spaced around the trunk, though the number of branches often changes from one row to the next. Due to cross polination, there has been a hybridization of the two species, and in some locations the two trees can only be determined by a botanist. [back to the top of the page]
 
False Kamani  
Resembling Kamani, this tree also grows near the shore, in wet areas. [back to the top of the page]
 
Formosan Koa  
Formosan Koa has the sickle shaped leaves similar to true Koa, and the wood is comparable, but with a lighter layer of wood under the bark than regular Koa. [back to the top of the page]
 
GuavaKuawaPsidium Guajava
A low tree, native to tropical America, naturalized in Hawaii. It bears lemon sized fruits which are commonly made into jelly, jam, juice and sherbet. Hawaiians make a medicinal tea from leaf buds, which has an astringent effect. [back to the top of the page]
 
Hau Hibiscus Tieliaceus
Sometimes spelled (and pronounced) Hou, Hau is a lowland tree, found in many warm countries, some spreading horizontally of the ground forming inpenetrable thickets, and some trained on trellises. The leaves are rounded and heart shaped, the flowers cup shaped with five large petals that change through the day from yellow to dull red. Formeerly the light tough wood served for outriggers of canoes, the bast for rope, and sap and flowers for medicine. [back to the top of the page]
 
Ironwood  
Generally planted as an ornamental tree or windbreak, Ironwood was once planted for use as ships masts. [back to the top of the page]
 
Kamani  
Kamani grows near the shoreline and reaches heights of 40 - 60 feet. The tree could be up to 36 inches in diameter. The wood color is a rich, chocolate brown. The lustrous and interlocking grain is dramatic. Kamani is a hardwood and hardest to work with among the indigenous woods. In many parts of Polynesia, the kamani is a sacred tree and so it was in Hawaii. Hawaiians planted the beautiful trees with their high scented flowers near their houses. [back to the top of the page]
 
KiaweKiaweProsopis pallida
Known as Mesquite in the southwest area of the United States Mainland. [back to the top of the page]
 
KoaKoa 
Koa is a large evergreen tree and was commonly used for canoes. Koa is known for its dark brown beauty, but only became popular for calabashes or bowls in the 20th Century as kou died out. Koa is a difficult wood to work with and today is primarily used for furniture. Curly koa is popular for wood items such as ukuleles since the grain is spectacular. Curly koa is rare and comes from the part of the tree that the main branches radiate from (known as a fork or crotch). The wood grain is stretched one ons side of the fork and compressed on the other, producing a shimmering grain. Other species of wood may also exhibit curly grain, though most Hawaiian woods don't produce curliness quite as dramatic as seen in some Koa. [back to the top of the page]
 
KouKou 
This rare evergreen tree grows along shorelines and was a wonderful shade tree near homes. At one time, Kou was the dominant tree along the shorelines of all the islands. It was from this soft but durable wood that traditional Hawaiians carved the majority of their bowls. Kou has a rich, dark brown heartwood with darker streaks. There are no discernible growth rings in the wood. The wood never cracks or checks and can be turned into any shape. Unfortunately, insects from the mainland US are killing the groves of Kou in Hawaii. Molokai has probably the largest number of living Kou trees and that is just a handful. As one might expect Kou is a protected wood and very rarely seen in a turned object or furniture, except in instances of historical origin. [back to the top of the page]
 
Lemon Gum Eucalyptus  
Lemon Gum is a variety of Eucalyptus [back to the top of the page]
 
Lychee  
Lychee is a pinkish to reddish wood with fine, close grain. It's tendency to split during drying does not make it a favorite wood with turners or furniture makers. Some examples of this wood take on a light chocolate color when finished. [back to the top of the page]
 
Macadamia Nut  
The radial ray pattern of the grain of the Macadamia Nut tree make the wood immediately recognizable. Usually turned side grain because of severe cracking due to shrinkage during drying, it is not often you will find objects turned from end grain, though the grain pattern is often most beautiful in this orientation. In side grain turnings, it shows a lacy pattern somewhat like lacewood or silk oak. It is a hard, dense wood, not often turned with a natural edge. [back to the top of the page]
 
MangoManako 
A large tree, the mango often reaches 65 feet in height and 3 feet in diameter. Mango is a soft hardwood. The grain is wavey and often has a pronouned curly or "fiddleback" figure. The color is lustrous blond with mottled color variations. [back to the top of the page]
 
Milo  
Milo is a dark, rich chocolate colored wood,although the wood color can be peach colored. It all depends on how much salt water, the shore-loving milo tree gets. Milo is usually found only at lower elevations. Molokai has a plentiful supply of milo as much of its shoreline has yet to be developed. Milo became the replacement wood for calabashes or bowls when Kou started to die out in the mid 1800s. [back to the top of the page]
 
Monkeypod  
Monkeypod is a dark, rich chocolate colored wood, somewhat reminiscent of Koa, though not demonstrating the variety of grain that Koa has. It is sometimes used in woodturning. [back to the top of the page]
 
Norfolk Pine  
The Norfolk or Norfolk Island Pine is a tropical pine stree. It has a "knotty pine" character. With a characteristic pine color, thse stunning trees have brilliant translucence and wonderful eyes where the branches come out of the tree. [back to the top of the page]
 
Ohia/Lehua  
Though usually turned end grain to show off the reddish hartwood, this wood is prone to splitting across the pith. Fresh cut wood will often display a crack running across the center one third of the log, which usually grows to split the object as the wood dries. The cracking primarily occurs because the outside shrinks more than the center of the log as it dries. Once dry, the wood is stable and is used in making interesting art objects. [back to the top of the page]
 
Painted Gum  
Painted Gum is a variety of Eucalyptus [back to the top of the page]
 
Paperbark Maleluca sp.
Paperbark is typically grown as a specimen tree in lanscaping, and is not often used in turning. [back to the top of the page]
 
Pheasant Wood or
Golden Shower Tree
  
This decorative tree is normally found in yards. Its distinctive yellow flowers makes this a beautiful but large yard tree. The wood's grain, when cut, looks like feathers and hence the name pheasant wood. The wood is a golden brown and makes distinctive bowls and jewelry. [back to the top of the page]
 
Primavera or
Gold Tree
  
This tree is a flowering tree growing over 60 feet in height and 3 feet in diamter. The wood, similar to satinwood, is light yellow and fairly strong. The grain may be wavy. [back to the top of the page]
 
Robusta Eucalyptus  
Robusta is a variety of Eucalyptus, and often resembles Philipine Mahogany, though it is usually heavier and darker in color than Mahogany. [back to the top of the page]
 
Saligna Eucalyptus  
Saligna is a variety of Eucalyptus. [back to the top of the page]
 
Silk OakOka Kilika 
This tree was introduced for shade, ornament, and reforestation. It may reach 70 feet in height with a diamter of up to 3 feet. Sometimes this wood is called lace wood. The color of wood is pinkish brown and finishes up to a lustrous golden color. The tree grows up to the 4000 foot level. [back to the top of the page]
 
Sugi  
This tree is a type of cedar with cedar's characteristic aroma. The wood color ranges in color in white and yellow with a reddish brown heartwood. Sometimes incorrectly called Sugi Pine. [back to the top of the page]
 
Toon  
Info on Toon goes here. [back to the top of the page]
 
Tropical Ash  
Info on Tropical Ash goes here. [back to the top of the page]
 

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