Plants of Oceania: Kou (Cordia subcordata)


"There are many traditional uses of kou, including as a shade tree around homesteads, because it provides a broad, dense crown. The large, beautiful orange flowers are used to make leis. Leaves were used to dye tapa or combined to make medicinal products. The main product of the tree is its wood, which is lightweight, soft, easily workable, little shrinking, long-lasting, and durable. In the past, kou would occasionally be used to make canoes (especially on atolls, “plank canoes”), but it was more often used for food vessels and utensils, as it has no strong flavor that would impart taste to food. Other objects such as paddles, boxes, small furniture, and carved figures were also often made from the wood. Today the wood is prized for handicrafts and carving of traditional figures by traditional artisans from Papua New Guinea through the Solomon Islands to the Cook Islands, and it provides a significant source of income in those places."

Except from "Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry (" by J. B. Friday and Dana Okano (April 2006)


To read more about Kou, access the article "Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry" by J. B. Friday & Dana Okano or the website "Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawai`i".


A hand carved kou wood bowl created by Dino Labiste.
A butterfly patch and plug made from manzanita wood were used to stabilize a crack near the rim.



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