Kalo Varieties

Which variety of Kalo is the best? The one that's in the bowl on the table. - Jeremy Konanui, Hawaiian Mahiai



Pa‘akai: Native variety; Pa‘akai, meaning salt. The name may refer to the somewhat salty taste of the poi. Or the name may mean the kalo could grow in low land areas where salty sea water intruded. Pa‘a means firm, solid, secure. Kai is saltwater, sea, brackish or area near the sea.


Chiefly for poi.


Found occasionally on Kaua‘i and in South Kona, Hawai‘i, where it was usually grown under upland, dryland culture (māla).


Short, moderately spreading, stocky, maturing within 9 to 12 months, producing from 5 to 10 ‘ohā; distinguished by short, stocky growth and dark green Hā (Petiole) with distinct, narrow reddish edges (lihi).


45 to 60 cm. long, very very green with a distinct, narrow reddish edge (lihi), white at kōhina (base).


35 to 45 cm. long, 25 to 30 cm. wide, 25 to 35 cm. from tip to base of sinus (māwae), narrowly egg-shaped (ovate), slightly concave (curve inward), fairly crinkled, dark green; piko light yellowish; round leaf section (lobes) acute with wide lihi māwae (sinus).


Flesh white with yellowish fibers; skin cream-colored, sometimes reddish-purple along the leaf-scar rings.


Hā (peduncle) light green; flower cover (spathe) 21 to 24 cm. long, the lower tubular portion 3 to 4 cm. long, loosely rolled, light green with tinge of purple at the kōhina (base). The upper portion is deep yellow, open near the constriction (skinny part of flower) even when young; spadix (spike of flower) 7 to 8 cm. long, the sterile appendage (tip of flower's spike) 8 to 9 mm. long.


The thin red lihi of the kalo grown at Waimea Valley is much more distinct than the lihi of the kalo grown at Maui Nui Botanical Garden. This kalo is good to experiment with growing along the coastline to test if its name means it can grow in low land areas where salty sea water intrudes.

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*The # refers to CTAHR's bulletin 84 system.